It seems that only the Fiscal Cliff’ was on Washington’s agenda the past few days as both Houses, the Senate and the Congress were engaged in last minute negotiations and voting to approve of a bill to avert the potential $600 billion in tax increases and budget cuts that the fiscal cliff represented. Of course with all attention directed towards it, the issue of an aid package for Superstorm Sandy relief will just have to wait as it was announced today that the US House of Representatives will not be voting on the aid package, delaying it even further.
A spokesman for Speakersaid that a vote on the aid package would not take place on Wednesday, the last day before the newly elected Congress is ushered in. This announcement comes despite the fact that President had urged Congress to expedite the aid package, with the announcement itself drawing ire from representatives of the states of New York and New Jersey which were the most affected when the storm tore through the Eastern Seaboard in November, 2012.
Representative Peter King, a New York Republican was particularly peeved by the Speaker’s decision saying that, "For the speaker to just walk out is inexcusable. It’s wrong and I'm saying that as a member of the Republican Party," while adding, "We cannot just walk away from our responsibilities."
Of course the urgency to vote on the aid package before Wednesday was because with the 112th Congress entering, the bill would then have to be reintroduced, with further negotiations and voting, delaying the aid package when it is needed the most. New Jersey Republican, Jon Runyan commented, telling NBC that, "If we get into the next Congress, you have to hit the reset button," and that inaction on the aid package was largely due to the fiscal cliff.
Superstorm Sandy caused widespread devastation across the East Coast, battering the states of New York and New Jersey, causing billions of dollars in damage as well as claiming the lives of some 120 people. The present bill, which was amended, would see $27 billion in aid released, which could later be increased to $33 billion. Of course the bill itself was approved by the Senate last week but with the Congress now not voting on it, the bill will invariably be delayed.
A joint statement from the governors of New Jersey and New York criticized the Lower House for not voting, saying that, "When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night."