House OKs slice of Superstorm Sandy aid
Congress has approved $9.7 billion in new aid for victims of Superstom Sandy, with a face-saving quick move by the House taken three days after Speaker John Boehner received scathing criticism from New York and New Jersey Republicans for canceling a late-night vote on the funds.
The bill, which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay claims to those who held federal flood insurance, was approved on Friday in the House in a 354-67 vote. After the House action, the Senate also adopted the bill in a quick unanimous voice vote, sending it to President Obama.
Boehner, R-Ohio, seems to have had reason to be concerned about bringing a larger $60 billion spending measure to the floor on Tuesday: Much of the money was for pork spending that had nothing to do with Sandy. All of the votes against the smaller bill on Friday were made by his own party members.
They were encouraged by the conservative Club for Growth, which argued the additional disaster spending should be offset with cuts to other government programs. The continued GOP opposition could spell trouble for a larger $51 billion Sandy bill that Boehner has promised will be brought before the House on Jan. 15.
And it provided a second example in a week of a bill approved with more Democratic support than Republican backing, an outcome that deeply troubles conservatives about the efficacy of their governing majority in the House.
Former GOP vice presidential candidate and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was among the Republicans opposing the measure. So too were more than a dozen House freshmen who took office on Thursday.
Still, the measure's passage quieted a political storm for Boehner that erupted when he pulled the bill from the floor late Tuesday, worried over pork spending and that he would have trouble corralling GOP votes for it from members exhausted from a debate over a bill to avert the “fiscal cliff” by raising taxes on the wealthy.
Boehner's decision prompted an eruption of anger from lawmakers and others from states affected by the November superstorm.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, told reporters that Boehner had ignored four calls from him and blamed “toxic internal politics” in the Republican caucus for dropping the ball.
The New York Daily News ran a cover with Boehner's face next to an image of the Statue of Liberty — with a bloody knife in her back.
Canceling the Tuesday vote meant the 112th Congress expired without action, delaying the vote until the 113th Congress took over on Thursday. Still, Friday's vote — with the speedy Senate approval — seems to have quieted the GOP criticism.
Republicans from affected states who had been threatening to withhold their support for Boehner to serve as speaker in the new Congress all backed him when the vote was held on Thursday.
Still, Democrats pressed their criticisms of Boehner for the delay, noting that the $60 billion bill that passed the Senate on a bipartisan vote died with the congressional turnover. The fate of the bulk of that measure will not be settled until later this month.
“This was the most callous action I've ever seen. The leadership of this House should be condemned for it,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.
In the Senate, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he feared the second, much larger installment of aid would get tripped up in the House in coming weeks.
“To be a bride and left at the altar once is bad enough. To be left twice would be unconscionable,” Schumer said, calling Friday's measure a “good, but small” step.
Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., who was pushing for passage of the legislation, warned colleagues that the nation's flood insurance program is “unsustainable,” with more money being paid out in claims than collected in premiums.
“That can't go on,” Garrett said. “We must work together on that.”
In a joint statement, Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, praised the House action as a “necessary and critical first step,” but said it was only a “down payment” on the $51 billion package.
The House vote was the first significant legislative act of the new Congress. The House later recessed until Jan. 14.
Likewise, after taking action on the Sandy-related legislation, the Senate recessed until Jan. 21, when it will return for inaugural ceremonies.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- At least 3 cops shot near Colo. Planned Parenthood clinic; gunman loose
- White House fence jumper captured on lawn
- Chicago police videos of black teen McDonald’s death lack sounds; protests planned for ‘Black Friday’
- EPA works on algae rules to protect from toxins found in lakes, rivers
- Hawaii confronts dengue fever cases
- Prescription skin drug costs skyrocket
- Former police officer who was indicted found dead in Massachusetts home
- Democrats face long odds in battle for lost congressional seats
- Red tape blamed for lack of domestic fish farms
- LA prostitution deterrent runs afoul of rights group
- House Republicans call for refugee limits in spending bill