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Sandy Victims Forced to Wait Out Political 'Games,' Govs Say

Christie, Cuomo, local representatives react to Congress shelving $60 billion in recovery money.

Officials from states hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy blasted Congressional Republicans on Wednesday for not passing a bill that would fund $60 billion toward recovery efforts.

In a release, Sen. Frank Lautenberg said the move denies aid to "families, communities and businesses that were devastated by one of the worst storms to ever hit the United States.

“Denying emergency aid to Superstorm Sandy victims is a new low for House Republicans," Lautenberg said.

Lautenberg said Congress should put partisan politics aside, as it does for other disaster recovery efforts, and "extend a helping hand to help them get back up."

"Helping struggling families recover from disasters has never been a partisan issue in Washington and it never should be," he said. "New Jersey and New York families have been hurt badly by Sandy and it is shameful that Washington Republicans are adding to their pain by standing in the way of their recovery.” 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a joint statement released Wednesday, "the people of our states can no long afford to wait while politicians in Washington play games."

"With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable," the statement read.

"This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented," the statement continued. "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. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night."

President Barack Obama said in a statement that he sent Congress last month "an urgent request" to support the recovery effort in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

"The Senate passed this request with bipartisan support. But the House of Representatives has refused to act, even as there are families and communities who still need our help to rebuild in the months and years ahead, and who also still need immediate support with the bulk of winter still in front of us," the president's statement read.

"When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need. I urge Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same, bring this important request to a vote today, and pass it without delay for our fellow Americans."

The House of Representatives adjourned on Tuesday night without acting on the $60 billion disaster aid bill, prompting members from the states hardest hit by the storm to react angrily.

The GOP leadership was criticized for what one Republican called a "personal betrayal" after it was decided that the bill would not be considered until the 113th Congress, which convenes at noon on Thursday, according to news reports.

The current session of the House comes to an end officially on Wednesday after the new Congress elected in November gets sworn in, according to an NBC News report. Legislation does not carry over from session to session, so consideration of an aid bill would have to start all over if, as expected, nothing is scheduled before then.

In a statement reported by NBC News, a spokesman for Boehner said: "The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month."

In tweets and press releases, congressional representatives said the time to fund the recovery efforts is now, noting that thousands are still without homes and the Jersey Shore's summer economy is depending on future reconstruction.

"It is outrageous that @SpeakerBoehner blocked a vote on the #Sandy aid package. House must pass relief bill immediately. #NJ needs help now!" Rep. Frank Pallone, whose district covers Middlesex and Monmouth counties, tweeted Wednesday morning.

A bipartisan group of eight lawmakers gathered after protesting the move on the House floor after the House voted late Tuesday night to pass a bill to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," according to NBC. That bill passed 257-167.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said late Tuesday he was told by the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had decided to abandon a vote this session, according to the Associated Press.

Cantor, who sets the House schedule, did not immediately comment. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that just before Tuesday evening's vote on "fiscal cliff" legislation, Cantor told him that he was "99.9 percent confident that this bill would be on the floor, and that's what he wanted," the AP reported.

In remarks on the House floor, King called the decision "absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We cannot just walk away from our responsibilities," the AP reported.

Prentiss Gray January 02, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Christie needs a word with Representative Scott Garrett (district 5) who also currently opposes the sandy relief bill.
D Ambriano January 02, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Seems the House of Republicans (er, "representatives") can't even vote to support one of their own...
stewart resmer January 02, 2013 at 06:38 PM
The Governor would be well advised to put forward a state recovery referendum before the voters in response to the emergency.
quiet January 02, 2013 at 06:57 PM
would love to hear from some proud republicans on this topic
clyde donovan January 02, 2013 at 07:01 PM
I'd like to know how New Jersey plams to spend the recovery money. I'd like to know how much money will be skimmed off the top of the aid to pay for the pensions and benefits of teachers and other public workers. I'd like to know how much pork is attached to the recovery bill. I want guaranteed full, free beach access - plus adequate, affordable parking and plentiful, free rest rooms - before one federal dime is spent at the Shore. I wan tto know that we're not paying to rebuild homes that will get flooded and demolished again in the next big storm. I'm not in favor of rebuilding vacation homes with public money.
Joe R January 02, 2013 at 07:14 PM
Oh wow, another union hater who can't resist bashing honest, decent hard working union people, some of whom risk life and limb every day so that some yahoo can continue to pour out his hatred for public sector workers. You can be assured that none of this money will be going for pensions and other benefits of teachers or other public workers. Teachers and others have paid many billions into the pension funds over the past 18 years. If you think teaching is so easy, so lucrative, then go into teaching. Just ask the teachers at Sandy Hook how easy teaching is. Essentially you want teachers to work for Walmart wages because you don't value education. NJ always has had top rated schools in the nation, it's always ranked in the top 5 schools of the country and is number one in some areas, in spite of the demonizing of NJ teachers by Cerf and Christie. They have not just attacked the unions (as if that's a good thing), they have also bad mouthed the teachers.
Gary Rabinowitz January 02, 2013 at 07:40 PM
I am neither a registered rep. or dem., but I've read some legitimate questions/concerns about the provisions of this bill. Ignoring the blatant pork ($ to Alaska Fisheries money, Homeland Security, etc), there is: -$13 billion to prepare for future storms. How urgent is this money and how it should it be spent? Couldn't that $13B be postponed and taken up in a separate bill? -Approx. 1/3rd ($20B) of the $60B is to be spent within the next 21 months. Thus, ~$40B will not get spent in next 2 yrs; this seems to suggest a lack of urgency in what's being asked for and thus "postponable" -FEMA has $7B now, regardless of this bill; this bill asks for ~$8B more for FEMA. Is that necessary? Peter King has some admirable positions, but he was a big proponent of the 2008 Wall St bailout. On fiscal matters, his credibility is lost. In his slight defense, find me one member of either party who prudently spends. Hard choices await our country--fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings, rancorous debates and sniping over "urgent" spending bills (aren't they all to the folks who stand the most to gain?) are, to use an annoying cliche, "the new normal." Perhaps all that seems objectionable is standard -- one part built in pork (to buy votes), and one part padding of the bill (politicians reward to agencies and interests that know how easy the electorate is to manipulate). On that note, I turn it over to the partisan hacks and comment trolls...-GXR
stewart resmer January 02, 2013 at 07:45 PM
dont blame me I voted democratic
Sick of the trolls January 02, 2013 at 08:33 PM
"clyde", you're a joke. All you need to know is this: NJ gets back $0.61 for every dollar in taxes sent to Washington, less than any other state in the union. NY gets $0.79 per dollar. Ohio, where Rep. Boehner represents people, gets $1.05. Hal Rogers, the other outspoken Representative against this bill, is from Kentucky, where they get $1.51 for every dollar sent to DC. So it shouldn't matter what we want to do with it, it's our money and we need it. Did we complain when Katrina destroyed New Orleans (La: $1.78 / $1) and FEMA spent money to rebuild? No. Just because the Bush administration couldn't keep track of that money didn't stop us from sending money to Oklahoma ($1.36 / $1) or New Mexico ($2.03! / $1, more than any other state) when they had tornadoes and wildfires rip through their states. We've paid our share, we've paid much of the rest of the country's share, and now that we need help they're telling us no. It's ridiculous. And go educate yourself: FEMA doesn't pay to rebuild vacation homes, they help people who lost their ONLY home, their ONLY clothes, their entire life. Maybe you should get off your duff and help someone some time instead of constantly complaining about how everyone else is the problem and the system is so corrupt. Either do something or go away, we're sick of you.
John Q. January 02, 2013 at 08:48 PM
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund still has about $4.3 billion, enough to pay for recovery efforts into early spring, according to officials.
XJS January 02, 2013 at 09:05 PM
I think asking how the money will be spent is sensible. I also agree with sensible rebuilding, not just putting houses on the ocean that will topple again. As for pork - nothing gets passed without it. I'd also like to get some of the $$ we send to DC back. Right now we receive 60% back while other states are takers. It's our turn to get the money back.
BillBalls January 02, 2013 at 09:24 PM
Cylde is right. Teachers don’t deserve a pension, and public work workers should donate their time. I have a list of demands too. 1) The DPW should cut my grass 2) The DPW should rake my leaves 3) The DPW should plow my driveway 4) Teachers should be forced to open their homes to babysit neighborhood children 24*7*365 5) Teachers should paint my house for free over the summer 6) No one should own “private” property if it is bordered by the ocean or a river. 7) No more homes should be built in my town 8) Police should not be allowed to ticket in-town residents, regardless of offence. 9) Families making less than $250,000 a year should not have to pay property or sales tax 10) Only democrats should be allowed to own guns 11) All republicans need to give their guns to the democrats 12) My road should always be plowed first 13) I should be mayor
Mary C January 02, 2013 at 09:25 PM
sick of trolls- i agree with everything you said however the only way to put an end to stupid comments like the one above is to ignore them. if you click on clydes name and see his previous comments you clearly realize this guy is the definition of a troll. trolls are typically lonely people with way too much time to spend on the internet. by responding to their comments you are giving them exactly what they want. you see unlike most people who will engage in constructive debates with friends or family in real life, trolls do not have anyone who will take them seriously or listen to them in the real world. so trolls like clyde make comments that he knows will get under peoples skin because arguing back and forth on the internet is the closest he will get to social interaction, i know its tough to stay silent and ignore the trolls, but ignoring them maybe the only solution.
Mary C January 02, 2013 at 09:27 PM
isnt it funny that the "taker" states are the red states. republican motto- do as we say, not as we do
Gary Rabinowitz January 02, 2013 at 09:53 PM
@ Mary C - you're making senseless generalizations (and thus partisan hacking). There are red states who "take," there are many blue states that do, also. Consider: Top blue states by electoral votes - CA - $1.09 (taker) FL - 1.39 NY - 1.00 PA - 1.17 OH - 0.90 (giver) MI - 1.56 IL - 0.92 NJ - 0.77 Top red states TX - 0.91 GA - 1.11 IN - 1.13 MO - 1.09 NC - 1.29 TN - 1.21 Source: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/the-map-that-proves-red-staters-use-the-safety-net-too.php I suggest you take this state by state analysis further though, to a county or municipal level. But take it to the furthest level (the individual) Mary C at your own peril, you will flirt dangerously with Romney's inconveniently truthful "47%" reality.....Cheers GXR
Ulises January 02, 2013 at 10:01 PM
According to Governor Christie, 80% of the damaged homes were permanent residence, the rest were vacation homes... We spend trillions of dollars in the middle-east and most of these House Republicans want to cast war on Iran, which will cost us another trillion we don't have... We can't account for $10 billion in cash lost in Iraq alone... We give Israel $3-$6B in cash and military equipment every year, unconditionally..., but when it comes to our own these tea-republicans in congress turn their backs on us on a dime, especially when it comes to blue states. Homes shouldn’t be built in flood zones but the government allows it and things need to change because global warming is real. There’s no doubt that spending needs to be reined in but we should start by making this Empire of ours smaller and build this nation of ours up first- rather than building up nations abroad that don’t care for Americans and exploit us for their gains.
Gary Rabinowitz January 02, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Well said. I agree with you, Ulises.
Edward france January 02, 2013 at 10:26 PM
The tri Stae area will now have to wait. The powers that be ,have too much power,and are out of touch with reality and the tax payers. Most of these" NO" voters were just returned to public office two months ago. We American people are wonderful,but too many of us have stopped thinking and doing our homework. Also so many...just dont care! The powers know this.
Flood Plain January 02, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Recalls and impeachment needed for every single one of the elected SOB's who don't vote for the interests of the taxpayers -- in the long-run; no more self-aggrandizement.
Sick of the trolls January 03, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Mary, I know, better than most, exactly what "clyde" is. Click on my name and you'll see that almost all of my posts are ripping on him for being an idiot. I fully agree with the "don't feed the trolls" method, usually it works. Around here, however, we have a few nasty ones who think they're actually contributing to the conversation, so I take the time now and then to rebuke them and attempt to at least get some humor from their idiocy. At the very least, it's great therapy and helps keep my blood pressure low.
E J Fritz January 03, 2013 at 03:20 PM
Bill Balls for mayor!
Jack Q January 03, 2013 at 03:48 PM
While I agree that it is horrific that this has not been addressed in the House and Boehner should lose his Speaker title, let's not hold the Dems in a great light. When Katrina hit, money was flowing from the Federal govt within 2 weeks. It took the Senate almost 2 months. As far as the wars and foreign aid, stop blaming the GOP. As I remember President Obama has been in office for the last 4 years, had a dem controlled Senate and House for two of them. So stop blaming the tea party and the republicans. It is all their fault.
Sick of the trolls January 16, 2013 at 01:46 AM
I soil myself on a regular basis due to a high fiber diet. It keeps me quite regular but has ill side effects.
Sick of the trolls January 16, 2013 at 01:47 AM
I soil myself ona regular basis due to a high fiber diet. It keeps me quite regular but has ill side effects.

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