The hundreds of thousands of East Coast residents—especially in New York and New Jersey—who continue to feel the sting of Hurricane Sandy more than two months after the storm, now are "feeling the sting of a House Republican slap to the face after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) backed out of a promise to vote on an emergency aid package for hurricane victims," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
The relief package was passed by the Senate last month with bipartisan support. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called Boehner’s decision to cancel the vote “a cruel knife in the back.” In a speech on the House floor today, King said:
The Republican Party has said it's the party of 'family values.' Last night, it turned its back on the most essential value of all, and that's to provide food, shelter, clothing and relief for people who have been hit by a natural disaster.
New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said in a statement:
The failure of House Republican leadership to put the Sandy Supplemental to a vote is politics at its worst. The people impacted by Superstorm Sandy are not Democrats or Republicans - they are Americans, and they need the federal government's help. We will not let up in our fight until all those impacted by Sandy receive the aid they need.
New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said:
Families who saw their livelihoods devastated by a natural disaster cannot afford to weather yet another storm in the form of gridlock politics. The actions of Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor are shameful and do not put the interests of the American people first, that much is clear. In fact their actions undermine our core American value that we will be there for one another in times of need. We need real leadership now, call Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor to demand it.
In a joint statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said the "continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable."
This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. 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.
A new Congress will be sworn in Thursday and if the House doesn’t heed calls to act today, it could be weeks before new legislation is approved.