Late last night the House of Representatives voted to pass the Senate’s “Fiscal Cliff” bill and, by unanimous consent a few meaningless bills that will go nowhere. What they didn’t do, that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had promised they would, was pass the $60.4 billion Sandy Relief Bill that passed the Senate last week. The reaction from the regions representatives was scathing, especially from Republicans.
“I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” Representative Peter T. 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.”
And Representative Michael G. 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.” [..]
President Obama issued a statement Wednesday calling for an immediate vote.
“When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need,” he 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.”
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, released a joint statement condemning the decision not to vote on the storm aid bill this week.
“With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable,” they said. They added, “This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented.” [.]
“Denying emergency aid to Superstorm Sandy victims is a new low for House Republicans,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat. “When our neighbors in other states are knocked down by emergency events, we put partisan politics aside and extend a helping hand to help them get back up. Helping struggling families recover from disasters has never been a partisan issue in Washington and it never should be. New Jersey and New York families have been hurt badly by Sandy and it is shameful that Washington Republicans are adding to their pain by standing in the way of their recovery.” [..]
“Speaker Boehner’s failure to allow vote on Sandy bill is a disgrace,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, issued a blistering statement on Wednesday morning, calling the inaction “indefensible and shameful.” She called on Mr. Boehner to visit damaged neighborhoods on Staten Island and in the Rockaways, but said, “I doubt he has the dignity nor the guts to do it.”
“Speaker Boehner should call his members back for an up-or-down vote today and allow them to vote their consciences,” she said. “Anything less is an insult to New York.”
Outgoing chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who represents part of the area devastated by Sandy, was the most scathing.
“It pains me to say this. The fact is the dismissive attitude that was shown last night toward New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut typifies a strain in the Republican party”
“I can’t imagine that type of indifference, that type of disregard, that cavalier attitude being shown to any other part of the country. We’re talking about real life and death situations here.”
It was in the low 20º F’s here in NYC this morning with wind chill factors near 0º F. There are still thousands living in homes and apartment buildings that have intermittent to no heat, hot water, or electricity. For many food and medical care is still a crisis. The official death toll from the storm is about 143 for the region. The fact is there are many more deaths that can be attributed to the storm, either from accidents or exacerbation of medical conditions from stress or lack of access to medical care or medications. The fears now is that people will die from hypothermia in their own homes that they fear to leave because of vandalism. Most have lost everything and have struggled to keep what is left and rebuild their live, they are afraid to leave and still willing to risk their lives to keep what is left. Yet, the House leadership has left for vacation refusing to do their jobs.
I don’t often agree with Peter King, as a matter of fact I can’t recall ever agreeing with him, but he spoke for me and everyone living here in the region, especially those still struggling to survive.