The chorus of New York Republicans blasting their own party in Congress for failing to act on a superstorm Sandy aid package grew larger and louder Wednesday, with some calling it shameful and unconscionable.
Meanwhile, the Cuomo administration said the delay wouldn’t cause any “major disruptions” in the recovery effort but could reduce public pressure on Congress to act.
Congress was set to vote on a $60 billion Sandy aid package for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut during an extraordinary New Year’s Day session in the House, along with action to avoid the so-called federal fiscal cliff. But in what many called a stunning reversal, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) decided to pull the Sandy bill back from an expected vote. Now, any vote might be delayed a month.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), New York’s GOP point man on Sandy, called the decision “indefensible.” Wednesday, top state Republicans echoed the criticism.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) called it “absolutely unconscionable.”
“By walking away from the aid bill, the House leadership has turned their backs on New Yorkers in their time of need,” Skelos said in a statement. “Without action to provide federal aid, rebuilding homes and businesses and repairing vital infrastructure becomes even more of an uphill battle.”
Others joined in.
“There are people living without heat, running water and electricity during the coldest days of the winter, and the House of Representatives adjourns without approving the aid. Shame on them,” said Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola). “It’s an embarrassment and a disgrace. To just go home without even a vote is inexcusable.”
Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick) said he was "appalled and disgusted."
"By refusing to act on the aid bill, the House leadership has turned their backs on New Yorkers in their time of need," Fuschillo said in a statement. "Federal disaster assistance is vitally important to help rebuild Long Island's homes and businesses, repair its critical infrastructure, and recover from one of the worst natural disasters in our history."
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sounded off too, calling the reversal “disgraceful.” The Democrat said the “length of time people have been suffering has already been too long” and that many homeowners don’t know if they will have money to rebuild.
Later, aides acknowledged that, for now, aid is flowing through the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help families in the short run and that no major rebuilding projects have been put on hold because of the House delay. The delay also isn't likely to impact Cuomo's state budget proposal, which he will propose later this month. But the aides said there is concerned that the House adjournment could take the heat off them to act.
“Does the delay reduce the public pressure on Congress to do anything? Absolutely,” said Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto.
Asked if Congress’ inaction reflected the failure of New York to lobby effectively, Cuomo said: “I don’t know what else I can do. I don’t know what else the (New York congressional) delegation can do. I don’t think it’s a question of (House leaders) understanding the need.”
Photo: In a TV interview, Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) expresses his anger and disappointment in House refusal to approve financial aid for communities hit hard by superstorm Sandy.