“The people of New Orleans, in that area, they were hurt, but nothing in comparison to what’s happened to the people in New England. Almost a million people have lost their homes,” Reid said.
Some of the harshest criticism of the House leadership’s delay on Sandy aid came from within the GOP. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Peter T. King of New York led the attacks on the speaker for not bringing the Senate aid package, which passed that chamber 62-32 on Dec. 28, to the House floor.
“I’m saying anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” King told Fox News on Wednesday morning. He called Boehner’s decision to let the 112th Congress end without House action on a disaster relief package a “disgrace” and “immoral.”
But House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the Senate-passed bill would have been taken up by the House if it did not direct too much money and resources to districts outside the area affected by the storm.
“The pork we will not vote on today is in fact the pork that was in this bill from the Senate. I hope we will negotiate a clean bill that only deals with the men and women and families on the Eastern Seaboard that need to be taken care of,” Issa said.
The conservative group Club for Growth highlighted the House-passed bill (HR 41) as a key vote and, in a blog post Friday, urged all members to vote “no.”
“Congress should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the national flood insurance program’s authority,” the post said.
Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., voted against the bill.
“I agree with my colleagues that we must help those affected by Hurricane Sandy,” he said in a written statement Friday. “We should meet all of their needs as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Washington’s legislative response fails on both counts. It refuses to distinguish — or even prioritize — disaster relief over pork-barrel spending.”
In the statement, Ryan added that it would be “irresponsible to raise an insolvent program’s debt ceiling without making the necessary reforms,” referring to the flood insurance program’s troubled financial history.
Schumer retorted at the afternoon press conference that “to hold homeowners who desperately need this money and have paid in this money as hostage to reform, that’s unconscionable.”
Boehner and Cantor announced Wednesday that the House will vote on the $50 billion remainder of the Obama administration’s disaster relief request on Jan. 15.
Kerry Young and Annie Shuppy contributed to this report.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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