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New York lawmakers blast House GOP on Sandy aid

By Andrew Miga and Larry Margasak

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:56 a.m. HST, Jan 02, 2013

WASHINGTON » New York lawmakers from both parties today lashed out at the decision by House GOP leaders not to hold a vote on Hurricane Sandy aid in the current Congress, calling it a "betrayal."

Reps. Michael Grimm, a Republican, and Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, said in angry House floor remarks that while they did not agree on much, House Speaker John Boehner's decision would be a crushing blow to states battered by the late October storm.

"There was a betrayal," said Grimm.

The Senate approved a $60.4 billion measure Friday to help with recovery from the storm that devastated parts of New York, New Jersey and nearby states. The House Appropriations Committee has drafted a smaller, $27 billion measure, and a vote had been expected before Congress' term ends Thursday at noon. An amendment for $33 billion in additional aid, partly to protect against future storms, was also being considered.

Grimm and Nadler were among several New York and New Jersey lawmakers who took to the House floor to complain about Boehner's move. The lawmakers said Boehner pulled the bill without talking to them.

"It's the most disgraceful action I've seen in this House," said Nadler. "It is a betrayal by the speaker personally of the members of this House," Nadler said.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., called it a "cruel knife in the back" to New and New Jersey. He said some Republicans have a double standard when it comes to providing aid to New York and New Jersey compared with other regions of the country suffering disasters. Somehow, he said, money going to New York and New Jersey is seen as "corrupt."

He said those same Republicans have no trouble coming to New York and New Jersey to raise millions of dollars. King urged donors from the two states not to give money to Republicans who are ignoring their needs on Sandy.

King said Congress approved $60 billion for Hurricane Katrina in 2005 within 10 days, but hasn't appropriated any money for Sandy in over two months.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., blamed tea party lawmakers and conservatives who were reluctant to approve new spending soon after the debate over the "fiscal cliff" budget issues for the sudden move by GOP leaders. He said the move was "deplorable."

New York and New Jersey lawmakers said they believed they had support for both measures.

"I am convinced it would have passed," said Rep. Frank LoBiiondo, R-N.J., who represents Atlantic City which was hard hit

LoBiondo said New York and New Jersey lawmakers have backed past disaster aid bills for other states.

"Now when it comes to us, we have a lot of hemming and hawing," LoBiondo said.

The lawmakers had erupted in anger late Tuesday night after learning the House Republican leadership decided to allow the current term of Congress to end without holding a vote on aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

King said Tuesday night he was told by the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia that Boehner had decided to abandon a vote this session.

Cantor, who sets the House schedule, did not immediately comment. New York and New Jersey GOP lawmakers were hoping to meet with Cantor and Boehner today.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that just before Tuesday evening's vote on "fiscal cliff" legislation, Cantor told him that he was "99.9 percent confident that this bill would be on the floor, and that's what he wanted."

A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel today would not say whether Boehner would reconsider his decision on Sandy aid, responding with the same statement he issued on Tuesday night: "The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month."

More than $2 billion in federal funds has been spent so far on relief efforts for 11 states and the District of Columbia struck by the storm, one of the worst ever to hit the Northeast. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund still has about $4.3 billion, enough to pay for recovery efforts into early spring, according to officials. The unspent FEMA money can only be used for emergency services, said Pallone.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are receiving federal aid.

Sandy was blamed for at least 120 deaths and battered coastline areas from North Carolina to Maine. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the hardest hit states and suffered high winds, flooding and storm surges. The storm damaged or destroyed more than 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey. In New York, 305,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed and more than 265,000 businesses were affected.

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busterb wrote:
Christie gotta throw some weight behind it!
on January 2,2013 | 06:44AM
kainalu wrote:
Unfortunately, the GOP is being held hostage by the Tea Party faction of their party. Until that fever breaks, the GOP, hence, the Country will have a long hard political road ahead of them for years to come.
on January 2,2013 | 06:58AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Uh, let's see. Here's a question for you, Tea Partyphobe: How are $8Million for Federal vehicle purchases, $150 million for ALASKA fisheries, $2million to pay for an upgrade at the Smithsonian, $336million for AMTRAK expenses, and $54million for the Kennedy Space Center related to Hurricane Sandy relief? ---------- Time's up. Answer: none of this pork is related to Sandy relief. It's pork. Get the difference? Disaster relief? Pork? It's pretty clear that what we have here is just another case of Tea Party Derangement syndrome, probably to go along with some other derangements.
on January 2,2013 | 07:46AM
ghstar wrote:
This does not excuse the House for not acting. Why did they not clean up the bill, remove the waste and pork, and then bring it up for a floor vote? This could be called responsible governance, something the House does not seem to understand. The House failure to govern is a real embarrasment to the nation.
on January 2,2013 | 08:14AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Plenty of time to do that given the fact (assuming any facts can be believed) from the article stating Fema still has over $4billion on hand for "real" disaster relief. Besides, I heard somewhere in the news that the House had been busy with other stuff, but, other than for reasons of pretzel logic to just find any possible thing to blame the republicans for, maybe the question should be the following: Why didn't the Senate, knowing the House's disposition against wasteful earmark pork, knowing that even President Obama had spoken out against earmarks, and knowing that earmark spending has been all but eliminated due to the glaring waste involved, stuff earmark pork into a much needed relief bill KNOWING IT WOULD MEET RESISTANCE? Answer: They are corrupt politicians, placing vote buying through wasteful spending and political gain, over the legitimate needs those suffering from a natural disaster. Answer your question?
on January 2,2013 | 09:26AM
serious wrote:
Pork--are you saying Uncle Dan was a Tea Party member?????
on January 2,2013 | 09:15AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Maybe so. Evidence: There was no "stimulus" money for a State of Hawaii International Center for Luau Excellence in the Sandy Relief bill. Was Maize asleep at the switch?
on January 2,2013 | 09:31AM
Kate53 wrote:
Ironic since Alaska and Florida are RED states, and their Republicans added that pork to the bill.
on January 2,2013 | 10:15AM
Pacej001 wrote:
All pork added to this bill, no matter the source is shameful, but, remember, without the Tea Party victory in the House the orgy of earmark waste would still be going on as it did in the first appropriations bill Obama signed when he congress was democrat controlled, over 9,000 earmarks.
on January 2,2013 | 11:16AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Also, please to note the absolute absence of any mention of WHY republicans might hesitate to vote for such a thing. This would be another product of your braindead, zombiefied, democrat/liberal,progressive/math-challenged, couldn't-get-employment-anywhere else national journalistic establishment hard at work, producing the "news" you want to hear without the facts you need to know.
on January 2,2013 | 08:10AM
ghstar wrote:
Say what you will, but the Democrats and main stream Republicans from the NE are going beat the Tea Party chuckleheads to death with this. Facts and details will be ignored; the atmospherics of this story are just too compelling for the media to pass up.
on January 2,2013 | 08:25AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Yeah, compelling if you believe the WWF produces "real"sporting events, if you believe Nancy Pelosi has never had cosmetic surgery, or if you believe raising taxes $60billion a year will head off our $60trillion unfunded debt obligation problem, then, you're right, the Tea Party mopes are headed for the cleaners, again. What were they thinking? Expecting a sliver of rational thinking from the voting public? Foolish. They need to just give up the fight and return to basics, sponsoring bills to send billions directly to the Cayman accounts of fat cat Wall Streeters. -------- On the other hand Hawaiians should be plenty PO'd about this from another perspective: Where's our cut. Alaska gets fisheries money and we get nothing? What's the deal? This hurricane should have been worth at least another dry dock we don't need at Pearl.
on January 2,2013 | 08:44AM
serious wrote:
Remember Iniki? Remember all the billions of dollars in relief funds our senior senators negotiated for us? Me neither!!! Inept is not a strong enough word--but they were D's --- life sentence!!!
on January 2,2013 | 09:19AM
NITRO08 wrote:
60 trillion? Where did you get that figure from your a--! Stop making up things.
on January 2,2013 | 09:19AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Here's a pretty good summary from a USA Today article: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/washington/2011-06-06-us-owes-62-trillion-in-debt_n.htm?loc=interstitialskip There are plenty of other sources for this and even larger numbers since not all Federal obligations are included. Our unfunded liability amounts to the $16trillion national debt and the amount due, over time, from the various entitlements we've promised ourselves, Social Security, Medicare, and others. Google the CBO alternate scenario for the most realistic explanation (still too conservative). Here's the bottom line: We have present and future financial obligations that no amount of tax increases will solve. Reasonable economists forecast our debt going into the danger zone in about a decade. The sooner we get control of our spending the lower the risk of a dramatic economic crash like the one in 2008. If we do nothing, wait for the inevitable debt crisis like European countries are having right now, the pain and suffering will be epic. This course we're own is obvious and unavoidable, just a matter of time and yet our politicians, mainly the liberal/progressive ones, do nothing and continue to win with the lie that we can just go on indefinitely borrowing 40cents of every dollar we spend, to include the wasteful pork in the Sandy Relief bill. Don't believe me? Google unfunded Federal liabilities and don't just stop with the first article that confirms your preconceptions.
on January 2,2013 | 09:53AM
Wazdat wrote:
on January 2,2013 | 08:25AM
Pacej001 wrote:
With what? Why?
on January 2,2013 | 08:45AM
loquaciousone wrote:
I agree with Wazdat
on January 2,2013 | 09:31AM
CriticalReader wrote:
Christie is plain-speak calling it politics, and there appears to be little question that is exactly what it is. The GOP House has politicked itself into a corner where it is terrified of approving a bill that spends $60 Billion to help people. It also doesn't help that Christie did the smart thing as the leader of a devastated State and put the partisan politics of the Presidential election aside to work appreciatively WITH OBAMA - once again, the House GOP and ITS "leadership" holds common folk hostage in its brand of politics. Boehner has to go. The last few days have demonstrated the real danger of Cantor. Very scary that these guys almost gained unchecked control over the Federal Government.
on January 2,2013 | 09:41AM
kainalu wrote:
Boehner supported the traditional-Republicans in those primary races won by the likes of Cantor. While the Tea Party representatives numbers are not huge, perhaps a dozen-n-half of them, there are enough to paralyze operation of the government.
on January 2,2013 | 09:52AM
serious wrote:
The Tea Pary has a simple movement--they don't dress in Indian garb as the originals--but their point is pure and simple--stop spending $$$ you don't have.
on January 2,2013 | 10:08AM
CriticalReader wrote:
The Tea Party lacks pragmatism and insists on pursuing an extremist position. That's irresponsible politics regardless of the merit of the starting point. Actually, I take that back. It's stupid.
on January 2,2013 | 10:41AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Name their extreme positions, please. What seems extreme to me is to see our unfolding fiscal disaster unfold and do nothing about, rather to enact new entitlement, taxes, and spending that make it WORSE.
on January 2,2013 | 11:20AM
Pacej001 wrote:
Try two things: 1. Google Sandy relief bill pork. 2. Think.
on January 2,2013 | 09:57AM
CriticalReader wrote:
So if the GOP House passes the bill they're wrong, right?
on January 2,2013 | 10:38AM
Pacej001 wrote:
They need to strip the pork out, send a true relief bill back to the Senate.
on January 2,2013 | 11:18AM
serious wrote:
Once again, how much $$$$$ relief did we get from the hurricane that hit Kauai--with our senior senators???? I don't think anything. NY has political power--anyone know why we conpensated each spouse over a million $$$ for the twin tower terrorist attack and gave none to the OK City attack, or the emabssies or the Cole, that BClinton was going to "get them" and did nothing? And W Bush had to take up that problem!!!
on January 2,2013 | 10:04AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
All that was really accomplished was to push the big fight down the road by 2-3 months.
on January 2,2013 | 10:28AM
ghstar wrote:
Well, that didn't take long. Looks like some of the more sensible members of the House explained to Boehner, Cantor and Tea Party loons what their job is: "WASHINGTON >> Under intense pressure from angry Republicans, House Speaker John Boehner agreed today to a vote this week on aid for Superstorm Sandy recovery. The speaker will schedule a vote Friday for $9 billion for the national flood insurance program and another on Jan. 15 for a remaining $51 billion in the package, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York said after emerging from a meeting with Boehner and GOP lawmakers from New York and New Jersey. The votes will be taken by the new Congress that will be sworn in Thursday." Actually, I thought they'd take a beating (well, they'll still be the target of jokes and CNBC) for a while before caving in and doing what they should have done in the first place.
on January 2,2013 | 03:57PM
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