Today, the House passed a bill to allocate $9.7 billion to FEMA flood insurance programs that are being used to help in the rebuilding efforts of communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy 354 to 67. Those of us in the Philadelphia area will probably be surprised to see how our representatives voted. In a rare showing of unity and bipartisanship, most Philadelphia area representatives voted in favor of the bill regardless of party lines. However, there was one major exception. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat whose district PA-13 covers portions of Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County did not vote.
Given the importance of this particular vote and the adverse impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Northeast as a whole, it is not clear why Rep. Allyson Schwartz did not participate. After all, some residents in her district faced damage to their homes and were without electricity for several weeks after Hurricane Sandy's winds caused several trees to fall into houses and power lines. In addition, Schwartz tends not to miss votes. During the 112th Congress, Schwartz participated in 94% of the 1,606 votes. Whatever her reasoning, it is unfortunate that in spite of Schwartz's generally stellar record, she will forever be immortalized as one of the eight representatives in addition to the Speaker who chose not to vote on a historic bill that would otherwise have been a strong example of the value of bipartisanship.