Elected officials from the New York area erupted with outrage Wednesday after the House refused to take up a federal aid package for states that sustained damage in Hurricane Sandy, and even local Republicans attacked their congressional leaders for their inaction.
“I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds," Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican, said during an interview on CNN on Wednesday morning. “Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace."
Gov. Chris Christie, a New Jersey Republican, accused the congressional leadership of his own party of “duplicity" and “selfishness," and called the decision not to hold a vote on the storm-relief measure “irresponsible." He said the legislation had fallen victim to “palace intrigue," and “it’s why the American people hate Congress."
And Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island, said the failure to vote was a “betrayal." He urged that action be taken as soon as possible.
“It’s not about politics," he said. “It’s about human lives."
Last week, the Senate adopted a $60.4 billion aid package, and New York and New Jersey officials said they had been promised the House would vote on the measure Tuesday night.
Wednesday, as the outcry over the House’s decision not to hold a vote on the measure intensified, President Barack Obama issued a statement calling for an immediate vote.
“When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need," Obama said. “I urge Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same, bring this important request to a vote today, and pass it without delay for our fellow Americans."
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, met Wednesday with Republican lawmakers from the region and pledged to advance a portion of the legislation Friday, providing $9 billion for flood insurance. The rest of the package would come up for a vote by Jan. 15.
“Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations," Boehner said in a joint statement issued with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. “The House will vote Friday to direct needed resources to the National Flood Insurance Program. And on January 15th, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy."
King said that schedule would be acceptable.
“This procedure that is laid out is fully acceptable," he said. “Fact is, we are getting what New York and New Jersey needs, and that is what counts."
Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, released a joint statement condemning the decision not to vote on the storm aid bill this week.