The fight against fellow House Republicans to secure $60.2 billion so the Northeast region could begin rebuilding after Super-storm Sandy wreaked widespread devastation frayed the bonds of loyalty and trust that New York Rep. Peter King feels for colleagues in his own party.
“I am still a Republican,” King says. “It’s just going to be hard for me to trust them again” after almost 80 percent of House Republicans voted against the aid package to rebuild damaged hospitals, highways and other transportation infrastructure.
A delay in action by the Republican-run House from late December in the waning days of the previous Congress until Jan. 15, when the House approved the final installment of the aid package, sparked a revolt led by Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey. King spearheaded the region’s fight in Congress for the aid with help from Republican members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation.
Republican resistance to provide disaster assistance to help storm victims reflects the “puritanical, ascetic point of view” that allows no compromise from party principles of less spending, King said today at a Bloomberg Government breakfast in Washington.
“I never asked these guys for anything before,” King said. “They wouldn’t even listen to us.”
Almost three months after the storm ravaged shore communities in New York and New Jersey and flooded New York City’s subway system, Congress completed action Jan. 15 on the $60.2 billion aid package sought by President Barack Obama. The final $50.5 billion installment was passed by the House with the support of 179 Democrats and 41 Republicans. Another 179 House Republicans voted against the measure.
King said he particularly resented arguments by fellow Republicans that Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, “wanted to set up a secret slush fund for themselves” with community development block grants that would provide flexibility to spend money quickly. “They were using the cheapest political arguments when people were really suffering,” he said.
Since then, King said, he has “already voted `no’ on a few things” to put his colleagues on notice that they shouldn’t “ever take my vote for granted again because party loyalty goes both ways, This time it only went one way.”