Outrage as Hurricane Sandy Aid Halted

“The Republican Party has said it’s the party of ‘family values.’ Last night, it turned its back on the most essential value of all, and that’s to provide food, shelter, clothing and relief for people who have been hit by a natural disaster.”

That quote came from New York Republican Representative Peter King in an interview with CNN. He was referring to a $60 billion aid package that was to help those affected by Superstorm Sandy, which ravaged mid-Atlantic and northeastern states. The U.S. Senate approved it on Friday, but Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives ended its term without voting on the federal emergency aid.

Criticism is being hoisted on House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio who made the announcement that there would not be a vote. Boehner’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, said in an email, “The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.” No more specifics were given, but Buck also emailed a news article reporting that Craig Fugate, head of the the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said his agency will not need additional money until spring.

More than $2 billion in federal funds has already been spent on relief efforts for 11 states and the District of Columbia struck by the storm. However, USA Today reports that FEMA money will not cover everything needed by states hit by Sandy. “Other needs include claims filed under the National Flood Insurance Program, repairs to mass transit and Community Development Block grants needed to help localities rebuild.”

It’s with that understanding that King made his very public statements about members of his own party. Indeed, he went so far as to say, “Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, issued a joint statement saying the “continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable.”

President Barack Obama urged the House GOP leadership to hold a vote Wednesday, which is the final full day of the current Congress. If the House does not hold another vote by that time, it will cause further delays. As CNN notes, a new Congress will be sworn in at noon Thursday, and they will have to start from scratch in passing any new legislation.

Giving voice against the bill was Representative Darrel Issa. He appeared on Fox and Friends Wednesday morning and explained that the reason the bill didn’t come to a vote was because it was packed with so much “pork” and that unless it can be stripped down, he would not vote for it.