In a move angering some within their own party, House Republicans reneged late last night on their promise to take up a multi-billion dollar spending bill to provide aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. The bill would have provided $60 billion in relief to areas heavily impacted by the October storm.
A spokesman for Speaker Boehner said in a statement: “The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.” But that reassurance was not enough for many in his own party.
“For the Speaker to just walk out is inexcusable,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told reporters, adding, “It’s wrong and I’m saying that as a member of the Republican party.”
Fellow New York Republican Michael Grimm said the move felt like a “personal betrayal.”
New York Democrat Nita Lowey echoed that sentiment, calling it “a betrayal of the leadership of the Republican party,” while pointing out that the bill had “passed the Senate in a bipartisan way.”
“I am stunned, stunned,” New Jersey Democrat Rob Andrews told POLITICO. “I understand the tactics but there is a real human need here that is being ignored.”
Democrats from districts outside the impact of Sandy joined the chorus of criticism as well, some on the House floor, and others on twitter.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted, “We cannot leave here doing nothing. That would be a disgrace.”
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York tweeted as well, “@SpeakerBoehner’s failure to allow vote on #Sandy bill is a disgrace & leaves NY residents without crucial aid to recover and rebuild.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said he had been in communication with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor about bringing the bill to the floor for a vote, and had been told it would almost certainly be considered after the fiscal cliff legislation was dealt with.
When it became clear the measure wouldn’t be taken up, uproar ensued, including a series of impassioned speeches against the decision. When a member introduced a motion to adjourn, an NBC News producer on the scene reported that it sounded as if more members said “no” rather than “aye.” At that point, Steve Womack, a Republican from Arkansas, “looked around awkwardly, and still closed the floor.”
The House will be in session at 10 a.m. Wednesday, but no legislation is scheduled to be considered. At this point, it appears the matter will not be dealt with the 112th Congress, which is on the verge of officially becoming the least productive in history.