Rep. John Boehner Is Sandy Victims' Last (Half-Ass) Hope in Washington
We know. We're sick of writing about Congress, too. Especially when it involves the inability to pass a relief package to disaster-stricken areas we know all too well.
Last week, we mentioned that a main problem of the fiscal cliff was its legislative contagion: Because of the disaster it caused in the negotiation table, House Republicans would not give spending measures the light of day, let alone a $60 billion relief package with no means of repayment for districts in the Tristate area. Hence why the fiscal cliff compromise passed two days ago only addressed the tax side of the issue, pushing the billion-dollar spending measure talk down the road for another two months.
Well, since then, the Democrat-controlled Senate has passed the enormous relief package, showing spectators that they are much more keen to dive deep into the treasury's seemingly endless pockets, unlike their House counterparts. But, once the bill found its way to the House yesterday, it was unsurprisingly a completely different story. But Representative John Boehner is trying to fix that. Kinda.
For background, the House Republicans are not the happiest bunch in Washington right now. Their leader, Boehner, just bailed on the whole not-taxing-anything mantra that has defined Republicans since Reagan, handing President Obama a definitive victory over the party's platform. So, of course, this meant trouble for the Sandy relief package from the start.
Almost immediately, the Republican caucus shut down the package's fate by refusing to have the bill come to debate. This move infuriated local Republicans, including Representative Peter King of Long Island, and led Governor Chris Christie to declare at a heated press conference yesterday, "This is why people hate Congress." Yeah, he might be on to something.
Quick reminder: The Speaker of the House decides which bills are voted on in the chamber, not his Do-Nothing compadres -- a power that enables the individual to transcend intra-party conflict just like this. With that being said, Representative Boehner split with party lines to help out the hurricane victims yet again, forcing the relief package to come to the floor. But he still met them halfway: Only disbursement of $9 billion of the total $60 billion will be voted on tomorrow.
And, according to Reuters, Representative King told reporters that another $1 billion will come to a vote on January 15. Simple addition: That's $10 billion -- a sixth of the requested money. FYI, that total, even beforehand, still did not satisfy Governor Cuomo, Governor Christie, and a handful of other politicians.
The Speaker of the House has stuck his neck out for Sandy relief victims, but, at the same time, come on. His move to not piss off everyone on the Eastern Seaboard has placed him in a position in which all hope of disbursing these funds now lies on his shoulders. Best of luck to you, Mr. Boehner.
We are sick of talking about Congress. And this information should tell you why.
The Voice will keep you updated on whatever the hell is going on in D.C.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.