Did Congress Mishandle the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill?

Those representing states affected by the storm were furious when the House put off a vote on a $60.4 billion aid package.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrive to a second Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.

Congressional Republicans from the Northeast expressed outrage following House Speaker John Boehner's decision to delay a vote on legislation to provide $60.4 billion in relief for those hit by Hurricane Sandy. The bill, with aid for those in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York impacted by the October 29 storm, had already passed the Senate, and was supposed to come to a vote in the House Tuesday night.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie too criticized the House and his own party for its failure to pass a bill that would help with storm cleanup and rebuilding in his state. He said the House's lack of action Tuesday was "why the American people hate Congress." He also said,

There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims, the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner … Do your job and come through for the people of this country.

[See a collection of political cartoons on Congress.]

Republicans from the impacted states said they were given no explanation as to why the bill was not put up for a vote on Tuesday, but shortly after representatives from New Jersey and New York met with Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. After the meeting, they announced that Boehner would schedule a vote on the $9 billion for flood insurance on Friday, and the remaining $51 billion would be voted on by January 15.

This appeared to placate some of the enraged Republicans, with Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island taking back his threat of not supporting Boehner in the election for speaker. Rep. Peter King, whose Long Island constituents also suffered considerably from the storm, had called on New Yorkers not to donate to House Republicans but eventually conceded that Friday's scheduled vote is "fully acceptable."

[ See 2012: The Year in Cartoons.]

"Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress," Mr. Boehner said in a statement released in conjunction with Cantor. "That was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations."

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