House Speaker John Boehner Punts On Sandy Relief Legislation

The vote on Sandy relief package is postponed until the 113th Congress is sworn in.

House Speaker John Boehner upset some members with his decision to skip voting on emergency relief legislation, which would have allocated money to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.
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The fiscal cliff may have been averted Tuesday, but the next political fight was waiting in the wings and exploded just minutes later when House Speaker John Boehner announced he'd postpone a vote on a Hurricane Sandy relief bill until the 113th Congress was sworn in.

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said he felt disgust over the speaker's decision to skip voting on emergency relief legislation, which would have allocated money to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

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"I would urge speaker Boehner to reconsider that decision," Hoyer said.

Democratic leaders were blindsided by Boehner's decision to punt the $60 billion relief bill until the 113th Congress.

The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support in December and was slated to get to the floor and easily pass before the clock ran out on the 112th Congress.

Hoyer said he spoke to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor immediately following the fiscal cliff vote and was assured the bill would come to the floor Wednesday.

"You can imagine my shock, disappointment, and yes, disgust...that the House was going to conclude its business without addressing relief for the states, but more importantly for the individuals, families, and businesses that have been so harshly affected."

Even Republicans from affected areas called the speaker out.

"This has been a betrayal of trust," says GOP Rep. Peter King of New York. "We were told at every stage that this was definitely going on. It is inexcusable. It is wrong. It is unprecedented in this country for the United States Congress to walk away from a natural disaster."

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Both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie met with leaders in Congress and were promised the issue would be dealt with during the final days of the 112th Congress.

Will the legislation punted further down the road, legislators from New York and New Jersey say they don't know how to break the news to their constituents.

"I am looking for a way to go home and look my friends and neighbors in the eye and tell them I can't help them," says Republican New York Rep. Michael Grimm.

House leaders did not provide an explanation as to why the vote was canceled, but assured members the issue would be handled later in January.

"The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month," says a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.

Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News and World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at lfox@usnews.com.