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Skipped House vote on Sandy relief called 'cruel knife in the back'

January 02, 2013|By Richard Simon
  • The U.S. House of Representatives this week delayed a vote on a multibillion-dollar aid package for states hit by the storm. Above, a home severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy in Mantoloking, N.J.
The U.S. House of Representatives this week delayed a vote on a multibillion-dollar… (Wayne Parry / Associated…)

WASHINGTON—Northeast lawmakers, including a Republican, blasted the House GOP leadership Wednesday for delaying action on a multibillion-dollar Superstorm Sandy measure they say is critical to the recovery of their states.

President Obama called on the House to take an immediate vote on the aid, saying in a statement that "our citizens are still trying to put their lives back together. Our states are still trying to rebuild vital infrastructure.’’

The House GOP leadership offered no explanation for putting off a vote on the recovery bill. The Senate has approved a $60-billion measure. House Republicans drafted a $27-billion bill.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), in unusual public criticism of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) from a member of his own party, complained of a "cruel knife in the back’’ delivered to the Northeast.

"These people have no problem finding New York when it comes to raising money," he said, referring to GOP campaign fundraising.

Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, said the speaker was committed to passing an aid bill this month.

But Democrats and Republicans from hard-hit states said their states need the aid now.

"We can’t wait,’’ said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.)

"We demand nothing less than we have given the rest of the country,’’ said Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), noting that billions of dollars of federal aid were delivered swiftly to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Govs. Chris Christie, Republican of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo, Democrat of New York, issued a joint statement calling "continued inaction and indifference by the House’’’ 66 days since Sandy hit "inexcusable.’’

"The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty,’’ they said.

Boehner will meet with Republican House members from New York and New Jersey later Wednesday, according to a congressional source.

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) called the House’s failure to act a "new low for House Republicans.

"Helping struggling families recover from disasters has never been a partisan issue in Washington and it never should be,’’ he said in a statement.

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richard.simon@latimes.com


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