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Bipartisan Outrage As Vote On Superstorm Sandy Aid Is Postponed

Nov. 6: Some of the damage from Superstorm Sandy on New York's Staten Island.
Paul J. Richards
AFP/Getty Images
Nov. 6: Some of the damage from Superstorm Sandy on New York's Staten Island.

(We put a new top on this post at 3:45 p.m. ET.)

The House of Representatives will vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy before Jan. 15, according to promises Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made to legislators from the affected areas this afternoon. The speaker met with angry representatives at 3 p.m., seeking to quell their outrage over the postponement of a vote on federal help.

After that meeting, Republican Reps. Peter King and Michael Grimm of New York said the House will vote on a $9 billion aid bill Friday, and a $51 billion package by Jan. 15, according to CNN producer Deirdre Walsh.

That would mean the issue will come up before the 113th Congress, which will officially begin Thursday afternoon.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey blasted the GOP-controlled House of Representatives today after it failed to vote on an aid package that would bring tens of billions of dollars to their states to help those devastated by the October storm.

"The toxic internal politics of the House majority," Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said at mid-afternoon, and that chamber's failure to respond to the nation's needs, are "why the American people hate Congress."

As for most of his fellow Republicans in the leadership ranks of the House, Christie said "there is no reason at this moment for me to believe anything they tell me." Christie said he and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had answered every request from lawmakers in Congress about their needs and had been assured that the aid would be forthcoming.

Earlier in the day, Rep. King said anyone from New York or New Jersey who gave money to congressional Republicans would be "out of their mind."

"What they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans," King said.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said she felt "betrayed."

Our original post and earlier updates:

Democratic and Republican members of Congress found something to agree about late Tuesday when they were told the House would not be voting this week on legislation to send tens of billions of dollars in aid to New York, New Jersey and other states slammed by October's Superstorm Sandy.

"I am stunned, stunned," Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., told Politico. "I assume there is as tactical consideration here, that the Republican leadership didn't want to be anywhere near a big spending bill after the fiasco of their handling the tax debate. I understand the tactics but there is a real human need here that is being ignored."

"I stand here almost in disbelief and somewhat ashamed," Rep. Michael Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island, said last night on the House floor, The Wall Street Journal writes. For the first time, he added, he was "not proud of the decision that my team has made."

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said she felt "betrayed."

According to The Associated Press:

"Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said late Tuesday he was told by the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had decided to abandon a vote this session [before the House adjourns on Thursday]. ... A spokesman for Boehner, Michael Steel, said, 'The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.'

"The Senate approved a $60.4 billion measure Friday to help with recovery from the October storm that devastated parts of New York, New Jersey and nearby states. The House Appropriations Committee has drafted a smaller, $27 billion measure, and a vote had been expected before Congress' term ends Thursday at noon."

Update at 3:40 p.m. ET. Boehner Promises Action:

After a 3 p.m. ET meeting between Speaker Boehner and angry lawmakers from Northeast states that were pummeled by a "superstorm" that included Hurricane Sandy and a winter storm, Boehner pledges to bring two parts of an aid package up for a vote by Jan. 15.

Update at 2:10 p.m. ET. Gov. Christie Blasts House Republicans:

Blasting the "toxic internal politics of the House majority," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just blasted his fellow Republicans for not bringing the aid package to a vote. "The palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress" must end, he told reporters. New York and New Jersey, he said, have now waited "six times longer than the victims of [Hurricane] Katrina with no end in sight."

Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. More From Rep. King:

"I'm saying anyone from New York and New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds," Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told Fox News. "What they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans."

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. Republican Lawmaker Tells Donors To Forget GOP.

From Talking Points Memo: "In light of Tuesday's inaction ... anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes to the National Republican Congressional Committee should have their 'head examined,' " Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said on CNN.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.