Although the House of Representatives passed the Senate-approved fiscal cliff bill early Wednesday morning by a vote of 257-167, legislation that would provide $60.4 billion in federal aid to states affected by Hurricane Sandy did not make the cut and will need to be reintroduced in the next session.
According to The New York Times, as of late Tuesday night, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was unwilling to introduce any Hurricane Sandy aid legislation before the chamber adjourned, said lawmakers and a top Republican aide.
According to the paper, the $60.4 billion bill includes money to help homeowners and small-business owners rebuild as well as to repair bridges, tunnels and transportation systems, reimburse local governments for overtime costs of police, fire and other emergency services and to replenish shorelines.
However, discord between Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, on which way to vote seemed to dominate the house floor into the wee hours of the morning. Ultimately, Boehner cast his vote in support of the bill, while Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., voted against the bill, The Huffington Post reported.
But as word spread that the leadership would not consider any storm-spending package this session, New York and New Jersey lawmakers descended upon the House floor Tuesday night to denounce the Republican leadership.
“This is absolutely indefensible,” said Representative Peter King, a Republican from Long Island, reported the Times. “We have a moral obligation to hold this vote.”
Representative Nita Lowey, a Democrat from Westchester County, echoed the sentiment. “I truly feel betrayed this evening.”
In the Senate, there was equal dismay.
“It is truly heartless that the House will not even allow the Sandy bill to come to the floor for a vote and Speaker Boehner should reconsider his ill-advised decision,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY.