Once again the urgent need for Sandy Relief Aid was set aside yesterday. What was going on in the Republican caucus was the dysfunction for which we are all too familiar. Speaker Boehner showed leadership in ordering an up or down vote on the fiscal cliff bill, in spite of opposition from many of his members including Majority Leader Eric Cantor. In the case of Sandy relief Boehner bowed to his fractious caucus members, many of whom seek to reduce hurricane funding.
Yesterday the NJ House contingent did us proud. 12 of 13 members voted in favor of the Fiscal Cliff Bill (HR 8) with the notable and unsurprising exception of Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) who lives in an alien world oddly detached from NJ and his own constituents. Of course, he was not alone as 151 Republicans in total voted to drag us further over the cliff and into the rough waters of a potential stock market crash, bond rating decrease, economic recession, and misery for all Americans.
Regarding the $60 billion hurricane relief bill, a Boehner spokesperson would only say, The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.” Two months after Sandy the House has so far failed to respond to our crisis.
According to WNYC’s Bob Hennelly, Republicans plan to split the $60 billion bill into two separate measures – a $27 billion and $33 billion package. The $33 billion package would provide political cover for Tea Party Republicans who remain deeply skeptical of the cost effectiveness of mitigation measures and who are likely to vote against it. Sources are confident the House will have the 217 vote majority to pass both.
When the House will vote on relief remains uncertain and any amendment would have to go back to the Senate. In the meantime New Jerseyans are stuck without the monies needed to begin restoration efforts and are about to find out that the federal insurance flood fund will run out of money this week.
A salute to retiring progressive warhorse Rep. Steve Rothman who in a few words encapsulated our frustration and anger against a Republican House which stands divided and divisive.