Although the House of Representatives passed the Senate-approved fiscal cliff bill early Wednesday morning by a vote of 257 to 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; to repair bridges, tunnels and transportation systems; to 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-Ca) voted against the bill, reported The Huffington Post at 1:00 a.m. today.
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 T. King, a Republican from Long Island, reported The Times. “We have a moral obligation to hold this vote.”
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 Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York.
“What House leadership did last night by turning its back on families still suffering from Hurricane Sandy was indefensible and shameful," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. "Speaker Boehner should call his members back for an up or down vote today and allow them to vote their consciences, anything less is an insult to New York.”