Yesterday, we told you House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) broke his promise to hold a vote on a desperately needed relief package for the victims and communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy more than two months after the storm. After a massive and angry outcry—especially from members of his own party who called his vote squelching a “cruel stab in the back”—Boehner announced he would bring a hurricane aid bill to the floor Friday.
But that patchwork package falls far short of the help Sandy’s victims need and of the far more comprehensive package in the Senate bill that Boehner blocked. On top of that, with a new Congress in session, anything the House passes must be approved by the Senate and then likely will end up in a conference, delaying hurricane help even further.
Boehner’s bill would just provide about $9 billion mostly for flood insurance. It does nothing to address the $82 billion in damages Sandy left behind. It includes no money to rebuild the homes and businesses destroyed by the storm. Boehner’s bill provides no funding for rebuilding and improving the transportation systems ravaged by Sandy or help for flood control and shore strengthening projects.
The $60 billion Senate bill Boehner killed addressed all those concerns. He claims those will be dealt with down the road, which, if the new 113th Congress is anything like its predecessor, will be a long one. As the New Jersey Star-Ledger writes in an editorial today:
There’s no debating the need for recovery aid in New Jersey and New York. The stark images of destruction are well documented....Every hour and every day of inaction by the House of Representatives to provide the full $60 billion for Sandy relief is inexcusable.
"There is no excuse for political gamesmanship holding aid for disaster victims hostage," said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO. "The promised votes are a step forward, but we must remain just as vigilant to ensure the New York and all impacted states receive the aid they need."
New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech said:
Speaker Boehner is astoundingly and disturbingly out of touch with the plight of families struggling to rebuild in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Even in the face of fierce public and bipartisan outcry, Speaker Boehner has proved defiant, proposing a bill which falls drastically short of addressing the unprecedented destruction of the storm and postponing the majority of relief funds indefinitely. The Speaker’s actions are devastating to families, businesses, local economies, and set us back as a nation. It is time for Speaker Boehner to address the problem he has created before further damage is done.