House Scraps Vote on Superstorm Sandy Aid

Seth Wenig/AP Photo

In a surprise move, the House of Representatives will not vote on Sandy aid in the 112th Congress, a GOP leadership aid confirmed late Tuesday evening. A vote to provide aid to victims affected by the storm could come later this week during the 113th Congress, leaving lawmakers to start from scratch on a resolution to the standoff.

After the House passed the "fiscal cliff" deal, members from Sandy-stricken areas on both sides of the aisle took to the floor to decry the lack of action.

"We have millions of our fellow citizens who have been badly damaged by a storm called Sandy," House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor. "Overwhelmingly the United States Senate passed some relief. I can't remember a time when we had a very serious storm, tornado, fire, flood where we did not act. This Congress is apparently leaving town without responding to that emergency."

The Senate has already acted to provide $60.4 billion to the region. But many House Republicans outside the damage zone believe the price tag is too high and includes extraneous spending.

"I'm here tonight saying to myself for the first time that I'm not proud of the decision my team has made," said Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. "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."

In remarks on the House floor, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., called the decision "absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We cannot just walk away from our responsibilities."

Members of Congress booed inside the chamber as the House adjourned near midnight. The House meets today at 10 a.m. and 12pm for legislative business, although the floor schedule is unclear.

"The people who have been damaged by Sandy…should be deeply disappointed and yes angry that this Congress would adjourn without addressing the pain of our fellow citizens," Hoyer blasted.

"I would hope this decision would be reconsidered. I would hope that we would say to those citizens: we're here for you, one country, one nation," he added.