House Speaker John Boehner is facing a bipartisan firestorm over his decision not to vote on Hurricane Sandy relief before the 112th Congress adjourns, creating a new crisis for Republican leadership just hours after the end of the “fiscal cliff.”
On December 28th, a bipartisan coalition of 49 Democrats and 12 Republicans passed a $60 billion aid package through the Senate to provide relief to the states that were devastated by the storm in October. But after dragging their feet on the measure for weeks, on Tuesday night Republican leadership decided that the bill would not be considered until the 113th Congress convenes on Thursday — despite House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reportedly saying he was “99.9 percent confident” that the bill would be introduced after the fiscal standoff was resolved.
Speaker Boehner has promised to make Sandy relief his top priority in the new Congress, but that isn’t good enough for many Representatives who took to the floor to slam Boehner’s callous disregard for the storm’s victims.
“This was a disgrace. They are inexcusable,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said of Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor last night. King, normally a reliable Republican vote, described the decision not to provide hurricane relief as a “knife in the back,” and warned that Republicans are “going to have to go a long way to get my vote on anything” after the debacle.
King also called on New Yorkers to stop contributing to the Congressional Republicans who have ignored their urgent needs. “These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars. They’re in New York all the time filling pockets with money from New Yorkers,” King raged. “I’m saying anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their mind.”
If New York Republicans follow King’s advice, it could have a crippling effect on the GOP’s fundraising efforts; according to The Huffington Post’s Paul Blumenthal, New Yorkers donated around $4 million to the NRCC in 2012.
Tea Party-backed Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) concurred with King, calling Boehner and Cantor’s move “a personal betrayal.”
“But I think more importantly, when you parse out all the politics, the people of this country that have been devastated are looking at this as a betrayal by the Congress and by the nation, and that is just untenable and unforgivable,” Grimm added.