WASHINGTON -Tempers flared Wednesday after the GOP-led House left town without considering aid for Superstorm Sandy, as a senior New York lawmaker blasted House Speaker John Boehner and his fellow Republicans for leaving victims in the lurch.
"Turning your back on people who are starving and freezing is not a Republican Party value," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., during an interview with CNN.
King, who is finishing his 10th term in the House, would not say whether he will vote for Boehner as speaker when the 113th Congress convenes on Thursday. He urged his fellow Republicans - who frequently raise campaign cash in New York City - to withhold their donations to the House GOP campaign committee as a sign of their outrage.
"I'm holding every vote in abeyance," King said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he'll hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday to discuss the Sandy relief bill. Christie, a Republican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, both Democrats, sent a sternly worded letter to all House members last week asking them to consider the aid bill before the new year.
The House did not vote on federal emergency aid late Tuesday, as King and other New York lawmakers said they had been promised by Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. The Senate approved $60.4 billion in aid on Friday to help New York, New Jersey and other states that were ravaged by the late October storm. The House Appropriations Committee had crafted a smaller, $27 billion Sandy aid bill.
More than $2 billion in federal funds has been spent so far on Sandy relief efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund still has about $4.3 billion, enough to pay for recovery efforts into early spring, according to officials.
On the House floor Wednesday morning, GOP Rep. Michael Grimm of New York said he apologized to his constituents and pledged to keep fighting for the federal aid for Sandy victims. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., said the New York and New Jersey delegations are crafting a letter to Boehner, asking the speaker to reconsider his decision to delay the vote.
"There is no rhyme nor reason and it is inexcusable that it has not come already," said Grimm, who represents Staten Island and Brooklyn.
Michael Steel, a Boehner spokesman, told USA TODAY that "the speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month."
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