In what many are calling a major embarrassment to the Republican Party, Speaker John Boehner adjourned the House Tuesday without acting on Hurricane Sandy relief. The reaction from Republicans in New York and New Jersey was instant and angry. Boehner had to a promise to bring the relief back up when the new House convenes Friday to avoid an insurrection.
This follows another embarrassing reversal on New Years Day when Boehner, besieged by a revolt led by wannabee-Speaker Eric Cantor (RTP-VA), announced that the House was not going to pass the fiscal cliff bill sent over from the Senate. For reasons not yet released, Boehner reversed his position in just a few hours and allowed the bill to come up for a vote.
Democrats, and enough Republicans to provide a majority, passed the bill. It has been signed by President Obama and is now law. Boehner and Budget Committee Chairman and wannabee presidential candidate Paul Ryan voted yes. Cantor and the rest of the GOP House Leadership voted to allow taxes to go up on every American.
Immediately after that vote, the House adjourned without taking up Sandy Relief, which Boehner and Cantor had promised to do. During the gavel banging, Congressmen from the affected states were heard shouting NO!
The outrage was swift. Congressman Peter King (R-NY) blasted Boehner and Republican leadership saying they had “put a dagger through the heart of New York and New Jersey.” He said on both Fox News and MSNBC Wednesday that Speaker Boehner “had a dismissive and cavalier attitude toward New York and New Jersey.” He went on “Republicans have no problem finding New York when it comes to raising money. I’m saying anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds.”
His sentiments were echoed by nearly every member of both parties from New York and New Jersey. Democratic Minority Whip Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said “I can’t remember a time when we had a very serious storm, tornado, fire, flood where we did not act.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose state was hit very hard by Sandy, voiced his utter disgust as well. Wednesday.
“Last night, politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens,” Christie said at a press conference. “For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch... There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their Speaker, John Boehner,” Christie said casting the blame where he thought it belonged.
The governor said GOP leaders had promised him repeatedly that Sandy aid would be addressed after passage of a "fiscal-cliff" bill, and he ripped lawmakers for showing “callous indifference” to Sandy victims, saying they have waited far longer than other victims of recent natural disasters for aid. Sandy hit the East Coast in late October. He called it “palace intrigue.”
Christie praised Eric Cantor for wanting to get the aid approved. Of course, no one knows what role Cantor played in this behind the scenes. A weakened Boehner helps an ambitious Eric Cantor.
Less than 24 hours later Speaker John Boehner backed down. He agreed to bring the relief up for a vote after he is re-elected Speaker, which he hopes will happen Thursday.
Boehner is dividing the $60 billion the Senate passed on a bi-partisan vote into two parts. He will bring a $9.7 billion dollar appropriation to the National Flood insurance program to fund payments to Sandy victims up on Friday. Then he promises to bring “the balance of $50 billion up for a vote on January 15. Congressman King said on NBC’s Today Thursday he takes Boehner at his word.
Rep. King may be overly optimistic. There was a reason Boehner pulled the bill knowing he would be hit hard for doing so. There is not support among Republicans in the House for the appropriation. Previously, the House Appropriations committee voted for a much smaller package removing “pork” as many Republican Congressmen called it. The $24 billion they passed is far less than the $50 billion Boehner promised King. So can he deliver?
People in the Northeast, don’t spend that relief money before the check clears.
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