Update: House Speaker John Boehner has pledged to hold two votes in the House of Representatives this month to distribute aid to states impacted by Hurricane Sandy, according to ABC News.
House Republicans killed a measure on Tuesday that would have provided New York and New Jersey with billions of dollars for Hurricane Sandy relief, days after the Senate approved a $60.4 billion emergency aid package.
At a press conference held at the storm-ravaged home of Councilwoman Fran Adelson in the Canals on Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and city officials called on leaders in the House of Representatives to pass the emergency relief bill.
Schumer expressed outrage at House Speaker John Boehner for not bringing the bill to a vote on Wednesday, saying that the move will delay much-needed emergency aid to Long Beach and other communities who are relying on federal funding.
“Basically, Speaker Boehner pulled the rug out from under us,” said Schumer.
Schumer was critical of the reasons given for the delay of the vote. He said Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Kentucky) said that the victims didn’t need the money yet, while Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) has said publicly that the bill was “pork.”
“It just infuriated me,” said Schumer.” “I want him to look in the eyes of these [homeowners], and tell them that to rebuild their house is pork. If he had an earthquake in California, he wouldn’t be calling relief pork.”
The timing of the non-vote is a significant set back because the 113th Congress will be sworn in tomorrow, meaning that the legislative process will have to start all over again and now requires approval in both the new Senate and House.
Schumer said both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have agreed to prioritize the bill in the new Congress, while Republican Congressman Peter King, of Seaford, was to meet with Boehner on Wednesday in an effort to shore up support for the bill.
The goal, Schumer said, is to have the bill pass both houses by Jan. 30, which he explained will provide time to lobby the new class of senators and representatives for their support.
“I know Long Beach — we’re going to rebuild bigger and better than ever, but you can’t do it without federal help,” Schumer said. “I’m here to reassure homeowners that they are not forgotten.”