Under pressure, Boehner is said to promise votes on hurricane Sandy relief (+ video)
Rep. Peter King says Boehner made the promise to Republicans from the affected states. Earlier, President Obama joined a bipartisan chorus seeking immediate action on Sandy from the House.
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, issued a joint statement Wednesday calling the House’s failure to act “inexcusable.”
“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,” the governors said.
Obama spoke Wednesday with Governor Christie about the Sandy supplemental request pending in the House "and the importance of its passage," an administration official said. The White House also said the president’s team has been in close contact with Governor Cuomo’s staff.
King initially called the decision not to act on the disaster assistance a “cruel knife in the back” and urged donors not to give money to Republicans while they are ignoring the need for storm assistance.
Responding to the criticism from within his own party, a spokesman for Boehner said “the speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.” He issued the statement before Boehner's meeting with Republicans from the affected states.
While the speaker did not say why he delayed action, one theory is that it would be politically difficult for members of his caucus to pass a large spending measure for storm relief immediately after some of them had angered their constituents by voting Tuesday evening for a measure that would increase the tax rates paid by the wealthiest Americans. Boehner also had to find a path between party members from New York and New Jersey who want generous assistance for their communities and other members of the caucus who seek to have storm aid offset by spending cuts elsewhere.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi’s office issued a document titled “Dereliction of Duty for Victims of Hurricane Sandy.” It noted that 10 days after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, Congress passed $62 billion in aid, while it has been 65 days since Sandy hit New York and New Jersey and Congress has not taken action.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.