GOP hardly rushing to Sandy victims' aid

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in Washington. (Jan House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) in Washington. (Jan 1, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Ellis Henican Newsday columnist Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a political analyst at the Fox News Channel and ...

A measly $9.7 billion.

After two months of delay.

Why no super response to superstorm Sandy?

At least 130 people were killed. In New York alone, 305,000 houses and apartments were either damaged or destroyed, along with 265,000 businesses. More than 140,000 flood insurance claims have already been filed and only a tiny percentage paid.

Sandy is America's costliest natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina drowned New Orleans in 2005. And even with George W. Bush's famous dawdling, the Gulf Coast got a $50 billion hug from Washington in 10 days.

So why did House Republican leader John Boehner let the last Congress go out of business without taking a vote on $60 billion in Sandy aid? His dwindling list of backers advanced various theories: bruised feelings from the fiscal-cliff debate; the upcoming debt-limit debacle; too much pork in the bill.

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But this much was hard to deny: It was a cruel slap at people truly suffering, and it angered as many Republicans as Democrats.

"A disgrace," thundered New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, accusing Boehner of ducking four -- four! -- late-night phone calls.

"Cavalier attitude," agreed LI Congressman Peter King, who added: "Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds."

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By week's end, Christie and King had softened their not-so-friendly fire, and Boehner allowed a sliver of the aid to be voted on, promising a Jan. 15 vote on another $51 billion.

There are many lessons in this latest Washington dysfunction. One of them is most decidedly not: They have our backs down there.

SUPER DIS

1. Shelter living can be fun.

2. Congress was busy with all the swearings-in.

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3. In the grand sweep of history, two months isn't so long.

4. Suffering is character-building and teaches self-reliance.

5. Why did you live near the water, anyway?

ASKED AND UNANSWERED: ABC's "Revenge," NBC's new "Deception" -- do all LI-set TV shows need creepy one-word names? . . . All recovered yet? Why is FEMA in such a hurry to close Sandy recovery centers in Islip and Mastic? . . . Those two new hybrid-only parking spaces outside Southampton Town Hall? Will they ease pollution by encouraging hybrid use or worsen it by making gas-only drivers go 'round and 'round the block? . . . What's Smithtown got against Sonic? Eyeing Nesconset's Middle Country Road, the drive-in franchise will soon find out in court . . . Did Kansas pols outfox our pols? With a formal land transfer, the Department of Homeland Security is one step closer to replacing our Plum Island Animal Disease Center with their National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility . . . Did Miller Place firefighters take much grief after summoning neighboring departments to help fight a New Year's Eve blaze INSIDE THE FIREHOUSE on Miller Place Road? . . . Now that 2012 is officially LI's warmest year on record, what kind of start is 2013 off to? Brrrr-y hard to say.

THE NEWS IN SONG: "Then we'd see the day when nobody died": Nickelback, "If Everyone Cared," tinyurl.com/5backcare

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LONG ISLANDERS OF THE WEEK: STATE POLICE DNA SQUAD

Twenty-eight is a lot of years for a homicide trail to go cold. But that long after Darwish Ali Darwish was brutally stabbed to death and his body dumped along the Southern State Parkway, State Police detectives report they finally have their man. The DNA databank, they say, helped to finger Raed Innab, 46, of Brooklyn. There was bad blood between the families. Darwish did seven years for killing Innab's uncle. But still. Forty stab wounds is no way to avenge a killing. Innab denies the charge, but law-enforcement patience and some high technology may have paid off this time.

Email ellis@henican.com

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