There is no excuse for the delay in approving federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Although the U.S. Senate had already passed a bill that would have supplied $60.4 billion in aid to the storm-battered regions, the Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives did not take up the measure in the final hours of its legislative session.
House Speaker John Boehner refused to bring the aid package up for a vote after the House passed legislation that spared the nation from going over the fiscal cliff.
In a press conference, Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie excoriated Boehner and his own party in a way only he can do.
“Shame on you. Shame on Congress,” he said. “It’s absolutely disgraceful, and I have to tell you, this used to be something that was not political. Disaster relief was something you didn’t play games with.”
Christie noted that it was 66 days since the storm hit. President George W. Bush signed the first of two Katrina spending bills totaling $62.3 billion five days after the hurricane struck Louisiana.
It is not enough the new Congress approved $9 billion in disaster aid last Friday or that a vote on the remaining $51 billion has been scheduled for Jan. 15. Although it has been called “a good start,” it comes too late.
Said Rep. Gregory Meeks, “This action is woefully insufficient in addressing the significant concerns and needs of millions affected by last fall’s storm.”
Because of the GOP’s failure, storm-ravaged homeowners in Queens cannot get a builder to sign a contract and businesses cannot get a bank to approve a loan.
The leaders from the battered Northeast did their jobs. Christie, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg documented the damage and justified their aid requests.
Rep. Joseph Crowley said he was told Republicans could not “stomach” voting on additional legislation after the budget vote.
“I wonder if they walked along the beaches of Breezy Point, Staten Island or Seaside Heights if they could ‘stomach’ the devastation,” he said.
We are not thrilled Boehner was re-elected speaker, but the alternative might have been a Republican who cares even less about the Sandy victims. The GOP-led House failed to respond to one of the worst disasters in modern times.