By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Under pressure from Republican members of the House from New York and New Jersey, House Speaker John Boehner promised that a vote for a bill to provide $60.4 billion in federal aid to states hit by Hurricane Sandy would indeed take place, according to one of those members, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island).
Boehner had pulled a Sandy relief bill off the House floor late at night on Jan. 1, effectively killing any chance that the proposed legislation would come up for a vote before the session ended. The issue would have to be taken up when the new congress convened.
Grimm said he attended a closed-door meeting with Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and other GOP congress members on Jan. 2 and that the speaker promised that two votes to authorize the funding would take place.
Boehner agreed to take a vote on Jan. 4 on $9 billion bill to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program. A vote on the remaining $51 billion in the aid package will take place on January 15, the first day of legislative business in the new congress, Grimm said.
The Sandy Supplemental Appropriations Bill, which had already been approved by the senate, was pulled from the House floor without warning Jan. 1, Grimm said. Grimm and other Republican lawmakers, like Long Island congressman Peter King and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, expressed outrage after Boehner pulled the aid bill from the floor. Politico reported that King was particularly incensed.
Grimm, King, and other GOP house members, who said there should be no delay in getting help to Sandy victims, demanded a meeting with the speaker.
“In a closed-door meeting with Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor, I, along with my GOP colleagues, pressed hard for a commitment on a prompt vote on the Super-storm Sandy aid package. Due to our relentless efforts, we now have the backing and support of our leadership to take a vote on the full $60 billion by January 15. I would have done anything to avoid this delay, but we will have to move forward and do the best we can under the circumstances,” Grimm said.
Following the closed-door session, Grimm softened his stance on Boehner. “Although I completely disagreed with the speaker’s decision to delay the long, overdue vote, I never questioned his personal desire to help New York, New Jersey and the thousands of people suffering from the devastation of Sandy,” Grimm said.
The Staten Island portion of Grimm’s district sustained immense damage from the Oct. 29 hurricane. Now, more than two months after the storm, many residents are still unable to return to their damaged homes.
Brooklyn communities also suffered devastation from Sandy. Neighborhoods like Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, and Gerritsen Beach are still coping with the aftermath.