NEW YORK—Congress failed to pass a Hurricane Sandy aid package Tuesday night, inciting harsh criticism from city, state, and federal leaders.
The Senate passed the $60.4 billion relief package Friday and the House Appropriations Committee followed up with a much smaller $27 billion bill. Both bills failed after Speaker John Boehner canceled the Tuesday night vote.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued a joint statement calling the action “inexcusable” and “unprecedented.”
“The people of our states can no long [sic] afford to wait while politicians in Washington play games,” the governors said in a statement. “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.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who had been on the ground in New York City following the storm and a leader in getting the aid bill drafted was especially critical of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “He (Boehner) should come to the Rockaways and tell families trying to rebuild their homes why they need to wait longer for help. But I doubt he has the dignity nor the guts to do it,” Gillibrand said in a statement. “Speaker Boehner should call his members back for an up or down vote today and allow them to vote their consciences, anything less is an insult to New York.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had praised the Senate for passing the bill Friday, was disappointed the bill failed to reach a vote, but was not so quick to criticize Boehner. “It is not for me to second guess how you run a legislative body,” Bloomberg said Wednesday. “I spoke to Speaker Boehner this morning and he assured me this would be considered during the month of January.”
President Obama spoke to both Gov. Christie and Gov. Cuomo Wednesday, according to a senior White House administration official.
New York City will be counting on the federal aid to recover from Sandy. No money has been allotted in the city budget for fiscal year 2013 to pay for Sandy relief.
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