US House leader promises storm aid votes
APWASHINGTON -- The leader of the U.S. House of Representatives agreed Wednesday to a vote this week on aid for Superstorm Sandy recovery, changing course after coming under intense pressure from angry fellow Republicans.
January 4, 2013, 2:45 pm TWN
The speaker will schedule a vote Friday for US$9 billion for the national flood insurance program and another on Jan. 15 for a remaining US$51 billion in the package, Republican Rep. Peter King of New York said after emerging from a meeting with Boehner and Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey. The votes will be taken by the new Congress that will be sworn in Thursday.
Boehner's decision Tuesday night to cancel an expected vote on the storm aid before Congress ends its current session had provoked a firestorm of criticism from New York, New Jersey and adjacent states, including many lawmakers in his own party.
According to King, Boehner explained that after the contentious vote this week to avoid major tax increases and spending cuts called the fiscal cliff, Boehner didn't think it was the right time to schedule the vote before the current Congress went out of business.
King left the session with Boehner without the anger that led him to lash out at the speaker Tuesday night.
“What's done is done. The end result will be New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will receive the funding they deserve. We made our position clear last night. That's in the past,” King said.
Sandy was blamed for at least 120 deaths and battered coastline areas from North Carolina to Maine in October. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the hardest hit states and suffered high winds, flooding and storm surges.
It was the most costly natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 and one of the worst storms ever in the Northeast.