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Jan 8, 2013 5:04 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

House Republicans Plan Vote On Bulk Of Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill Next Week

Jan 8, 2013 5:45 PM

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved $9.7 billion to expedite payments of federal flood insurance claims filed by victims of Hurricane Sandy, with plans to vote on a larger relief package sometime next week.

Friday’s vote followed scathing criticism from northeastern congressional Republicans and Democrats after Republican leadership in the House failed earlier in the week to bring forward a vote on a $60.4 billion U.S. Senate-approved Hurricane Sandy relief bill. A vote on the larger bill is expected to occur around January 14 or January 15, according to Oliver Longwell, U.S. Representative Tim Bishop’s communications director.

A chorus of angry lawmakers sounded off on the Republican leadership’s inaction on the bill, which was brought to a screeching halt when Republican leadership opted not to bring it to the floor, according to Mr. Longwell.

The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate approved a $60.4 billion aid package with bipartisan support on December 28. House Republicans were believed to be working on a short-term version of the bill that would approve about half of the amount, but Republican leadership in the House didn’t bring the vote to the floor, Mr. Longwell said.

In a speech on the House floor last week, Mr. Bishop called the inaction “an outrageous decision” by the Republican leadership. He contrasted Congress’s response to Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, when Congress doled out $100 billion to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast states. The first $62 billion of that aid packaged arrived within the first two weeks after the storm.

“It’s unconscionable that this chamber would walk away from a region desperate for assistance in its greatest hour of need,” Mr. Bishop said, according to a transcript of the speech. “We do not accept this shockingly callous indifference to the human suffering in our districts that our constituents and tens of thousands of their fellow citizens continue to endure.”

Other political leaders also publicly condemned House Republicans, including Democratic New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The two issued a joint statement calling the inaction “inexcusable.” When the House approved a portion of the bill, the governors issued another statement saying while they were pleased with the vote, the $9.7 billion was just “a down payment.”

“We are trusting Congress to act accordingly on January 15 and pass the final $51 billion instrumental for long-term rebuilding in order for New Jersey, New York and our people to recover after the severe devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” they stated.

The $9.7 billion temporarily increases the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) borrowing authority to carry out the National Flood Insurance Program, according to a press release issued by Mr. Bishop’s office. It will ensure the government is able to pay claims for 115,000 home and business owners who were flooded out by the storm.

About $5 billion of the aid in the $60.4 billion U.S. Senate bill would have gone to the Army Corps of Engineers for things like permanent improvements to the shoreline, dune reconstruction, dredging, and strengthening areas that were weakened by the storm, Mr. Longwell said. In Mr. Bishop’s district, that includes the heavily-hit area of Mastic Beach, where as many as 5,000 people who live in the working-class community sustained irreparable damages.

Also, the money could be used to help harden shorelines for future storms in areas like Montauk. The aid would be used to reimburse local governments like East Hampton and Southampton Town, which have spent millions on repairs.

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Wow.....the Republicans wouldn't even vote on the bill.
Well Right-wingers....Comments about how your leadership is handling this?
By SHNative (554), Southampton on Jan 2, 13 9:44 PM
You continue to show how little you know.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 5, 13 4:13 PM
Republican Congressman Pete King had it right, Republican CANDIDATES come here to wet their beaks at the estates of the wealthy but ELECTED Republicans are indifferent to the plight of our neighbors. We should preserve in memory the disdain of Republican legislators when they hereafter ask for our votes as candidates.
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on Jan 2, 13 11:27 PM
The republican controlled house is a sham. They have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt, that their only concern is their donors. The middle class, average American is not their base and they simply do not give a sh** about us. I hope voters remember this come mid-terms.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 3, 13 8:30 AM
The real reason Boehner did not bring this vote to the floor was because the teaparty extremists do not believe that gov't should help disaster victims (unless they are big banks!). Just ask Rand Paul. The teaparty has hastened the downfall of American democracy. They are a more destructive force that any natural disaster or outside terrorist group.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 3, 13 8:32 AM
It's amazing how people make opinions with out knowing the facts. Did you see the bill? The bill has 9 billion for planning for future storms, millions for a new roof on the Smithsonian, billions for NASA and some other govt pet projects.. Oh and my favorite one is 150 million towards Alaskan fisheries. The money that is going for the storm is mostly for states counties, and towns. People think the govt is showing up to private homes and will rebuild them. That is not going to happen. This is another ...more
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 3, 13 9:08 AM
2 members liked this comment
We need to pass the bill so we can find out what's in it.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jan 3, 13 6:32 PM
1 member liked this comment
"...away from the fog of the controversy."
Jan 3, 13 6:40 PM appended by Mr. Z
Henry Rollins for President!
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 3, 13 6:40 PM
steve O could be his VP running mate
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jan 3, 13 8:42 PM
How little you must know about the man.

Try googling that phrase...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 5, 13 6:14 PM
You should you tube him from his black flag days or check out his appearances on the MTV show Jack a!?. I'm sure he would represent our country well. This guy is wound way to tight. I can see it now a reporter asks a question he doesn't like do he bests him up.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Jan 8, 13 7:10 AM
Lets get a few facts straight about this bill.
It has nothing to do with helping people rebuild their homes. FEMA was already appropriated 6 billion dollars to do that, and they still have about 4 billion still not spent. A FEMA spokesperson said that they will not need additional funding for at least six more months.
This Hurricane Relief bill is the same bill that two weeks ago the politicians were complaining about as having to much pork. Most of the projects in this bill will not even ...more
By Spinny OHO (94), Speonk on Jan 3, 13 10:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
Just like the TARP bill, right? Some of us know how that turned out.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 5, 13 4:12 PM
Yes, we do.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 5, 13 6:56 PM
Great article that you posted in other thread Z
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 5, 13 6:57 PM

I know it seems like I harp on bankers, corporates, and Congress, BUT I see so many parallels between the late 19th century America, and today's America. All the repeated crashes, poverty, and seemingly untouchable "elite". We've been warned quite well by the past how Oligarchy, aristocracy, and "nobility" work out for everyone. Seems "We" don't learn very well, however.

"Legum servi sumus ut liberi esse possimus ."
We are slaves of the law in order that we may be ...more
Jan 5, 13 7:27 PM appended by Mr. Z
And, thank Providence for journalists like Matt Taibbi.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 5, 13 7:27 PM
You want parallels? Try late 5th century Rome.
By loading... (601), quiogue on Jan 9, 13 12:09 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jan 7, 13 1:30 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 7, 13 7:30 PM
More class envy drivel Mr. Z!
To the point of the article, if there wasn't a pile of pork in the bill, it would have sailed through. Thank God there are a few in congress with the spine to stand up and say ENOUGH!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 8, 13 8:21 AM
Pork barrel spending was invented only recently. I suppose the "wobblys" of the early 20th century were the product of class Envy in your eyes as well.

Get to steppin and learn some American history.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 8, 13 11:54 AM
History is being made right now. Our Dear Leader and His followers are spending us into financial oblivion, cheered on by the takers of society, you know, the ones whos' votes were purchased with what they think is free stuff!
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 12, 13 9:58 AM
1 member liked this comment