While the fiscal cliff deal was busy getting passed, bitter House Republicans allowed a $27 billion relief package for states affected by Hurricane Sandy to die amidst partisan, pork-stuffed complaints. Majority Leader Eric Cantor had pushed for the bill to be debated Wednesday, Politico's David Rogers explains, and Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey had filed a $33 billion amendment to the $27 billion Senate bill. But Tuesday night, House Republicans had a change of heart, and the bill will likely fade away as the extended session of Congress comes to a close Wednesday afternoon. Northeastern lawmakers are furious, and say House Republicans just don't want to vote for a spending bill after voting for a tax increase.
At least the outrage is bipartisan. New Jersey Democrat Rob Andrews told Politico:
"I assume there is as tactical consideration here, that the Republican leadership didn't want to be anywhere near a big spending bill after the fiasco of their handling the tax debate. I understand the tactics but there is a real human need here that is being ignored."
Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, said the decision was "a betrayal of trust," Roll Call's Kerry Young reports. "The decision is absolutely indefensible," King said. "Everybody played by the rules, except tonight when the rug was pulled out from under us." Michael Grimm, a Republican who represents Staten Island, said, "I am here tonight saying to myself for the first time that I am not proud of the decision that my team has made." On CBS's This Morning, Rep. Steve LaTourette, an outgoing Ohio Republican who's been critical of his party over the fiscal cliff, said, "The same chuckleheads who jettisoned Plan B on this tax discussion a week ago said this $60 billion isn't paid for and because it’s not paid for, we're not going to do anything about it. I guess they don't have TVs in their homes and they haven’t seen the suffering on Staten Island and the coast of New Jersey."
An aide to Cantor told Roll Call it was House Speaker John Boehner's decision. Boehner's spokesman said he's "committed to getting this bill passed this month." On Fox & Friends Wednesday morning, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa was less diplomatic. "Your two senators packed this with pork," Issa said, referring to New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. "They had the opportunity to have a $27 to $30 billion dollar legit relief package, packed it with pork, then dared us not to vote on it." The bill included non-Sandy measures like $150 million for Alaskan fisheries, Politico's Kevin Robillard notes. The plan would have boosted funds for the national flood insurance program, which is estimated to hit its borrowing limit the week of January 7. Without increased borrowing authority, the fund can only pay 12,000 of the estimated 139,000 Sandy-related claims.