Just as the fiscal-cliff negotiations are drawing to a close, a fresh controversy is brewing in the House of Representatives after Republican leadership decided they will not vote during the 112th Congress on a bill to provide supplemental aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Both Republicans and Democrats lashed out at Republican leadership for what one Republican called a “personal betrayal,” after it was decided that the bill would not be considered until the 113th Congress, which convenes at noon Thursday.
“For the Speaker to just walk out is inexcusable,” Rep. Peter King (R-NY-Long Island) told reporters. “It’s wrong, and I’m saying that as a member of the Republican Party.”
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a short statement: “The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.”
That assurance was not enough for the members of districts affected by Sandy.
After Hurricane Katrina, Congress had special funds on the way to aid victims of that disaster within 10 days. Though the White House had a bill passed by the Senate just as quickly, House Republicans have refused to allow a vote on aid for Hurricane Sandy victims and communities for over 9 weeks, now.
“I feel it is a personal betrayal,” Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-Staten Island) said. “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…”
The House had originally planned to consider a two-step bill that would start with $27 billion in supplemental aid, but also include an amendment worth an additional $33 billion. The bill had been split to allow conservative Republicans to vote for a base level of additional aid, but not the entire package, which many Republicans said did not entirely go to those affected by Sandy.
The Senate passed a bill on Dec. 28 by a vote of 61-33 that would provide $60.2 billion in additional aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. During that vote 12 Republicans voted for the measure, but only after a replacement amendment that would have stripped $35 billion from the bill failed to pass.
An emotional King went so far Wednesday to urge residents of New York and New Jersey to halt donations to his own party in the House as a result of the chamber’s 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,” he said on Fox News. “Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”
Folks have to realize the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican does not consider itself a party of all the people, not even a party of all the nation. Just as they embrace only policies and ideology befitting the bigots of the Confederate States of America, they come down on questions of aid to fellow Americans in times of need as unnecessary. Physically as well as philosophically, they are the new party of the Confederacy.