Bloomberg Shrugs Off Delay on Hurricane Sandy Aid Vote
NEW YORK CITY — While his fellow elected officials raged against the House of Representatives' failure to bring a $60 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package to a vote before adjourning late Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg struck a much milder tone, saying it wasn't his job to judge House Speaker John Boehner's call.
“It’s not for me to second-guess how you run a legislative body," Bloomberg said Wednesday, the same day when governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie slammed the failure to vote as a "dereliction of duty."
The House of Representatives will now cast a preliminary vote to direct funds to the National Flood Insurance Program on Friday, with a vote on the rest of the aid scheduled for Jan. 15 — the first day of legislative business for the new 113th Congress, Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced following a closed-door meeting with local lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.
Bloomberg had said earlier that he had a long chat with Boehner Wednesday morning, in which the speaker assured him a vote would be taken at some point in January.
"You know, democracy is something that takes a while to come together and to get the results," Bloomberg said. "As long as it turns out that we get the monies that we think are appropriate for the federal government to send to a part of the country that's had a major natural disaster, all's well that ends well."
The decision to scrap the vote had drawn outrage from other state and city officials, who took to the House floor and to the airwaves to slam Boehner for failing to help residents still desperately in need of aid.
"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," Cuomo and Christie said in a joint statement.
"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," they added.
On the House floor Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning, Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, whose Staten Island district was devastated by the storm, said that he was “almost in disbelief” over the decision.
“I am here tonight saying to myself for the first time that I am not proud of the decision my team has made. It was not the right decision,” he said Tuesday.
Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who represents Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan, said that, in his 20 years in office, he has “never, ever” seen the Congress turn a blind eye to a natural disaster as it has with Sandy.
“To ignore the plight of millions of American citizens? Unprecedented. Disgusting. Unworthy of the leadership of this House,” he said. “They should reconsider, or they should hang their heads in shame.”
Republican Rep. Peter King went as far as to tell CNN on Wednesday that he would not rule out switching parties over the failed vote and called on New York and New Jersey residents to stop contributing to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee.
“This is absolutely indefensible,” King said during his floor speech. “We have a moral obligation to hold this vote!”
The Senate passed the bill authorizing more than $60 billion in aid on Dec. 28 by a vote of 62-32.
Legislation does not carry over from one Congress to the next, so the bill will have to be re-introduced in both houses.