Boehner Kills Sandy Relief Bill After Cantor All but Promised It Would Pass

Boehner Kills Sandy Relief Bill After Cantor All but Promised It Would Pass

House Speaker John Boehner killed a $60 billion package to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy, a GOP leadership aide–likely from Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office–told Politico late Tuesday.

“Speaker Boehner made the decision not to proceed this Congress” on Sandy victim aid, Politico’s Seung Min Kim reported a GOP leadership aide told her.

The reason it appears Min Kim’s quote comes from a Cantor aide is because it was reported a half hour after the Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery said that Boehner’s spokesman was referring “questions about Sandy aid bill to Cantor’s office.” When reporters quote a “GOP leadership aide,” they are typically quoting an aide in either the Speaker’s or Majority Leader’s offices.

CBS News reports that “House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that just before Tuesday evening’s vote on fiscal cliff legislation, Cantor told him that he was ‘99.9 percent confident that this bill would be on the floor, and that’s what he wanted.'”

And it was expected to hit the House floor for a vote before the end of the 112th Congress, either late Tuesday or on Wednesday. That means the bill would have been passed before the end of the 112th Congress and aid would come to help Sandy victims sooner rather than later.

Cantor wanted the bill passed before the new Congress starts on Thursday, too. And it looks like Boehner was going to go along with it and let the vote happen but canceled it all of a sudden out of bitterness after his top two deputies–Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy–voted against the “fiscal cliff” deal that passed late Tuesday. Boehner voted for the fiscal cliff deal, and Cantor’s and McCarthy’s move may mean they’ll challenge Boehner’s speakership.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel downplayed the Speaker’s reversal on providing aid to Sandy victims quickly. “The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month,” Steel said. Aides to leadership have confirmed Boehner has killed any effort to provide Sandy victims aid until next Congress.

Boehner’s decision to put politics above Sandy relief has angered Republicans and Democrats alike from the Northeast.

House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King, a NewYork Republican who wanted the Sandy bill that had widespread bipartisansupport to pass, said Boehner’s decision to kill the Sandy relief billwas “absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We cannot justwalk away from our responsibilities.” 

“I’m here tonight saying to myself for the first time that I’m not proud of the decision my team has made,” New York GOP Rep. Michael Grimm said. “It is the wrong decision, and I’ m going to be respectful and ask that the speaker reconsider his decision. Because it’s not about politics, it’s about human lives.”

“I truly feel betrayed this evening,” New York Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey said.