FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Congress will vote Friday on $9 billion in flood insurance for victims of Hurricane Sandy. House Speaker John Boehner had canceled a vote for the aid Tuesday, sparking outrage from leaders such as U.S. Rep. Jim Himes and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.
The vote on the aid package, which has already been passed by the Senate, was supposed to take place Tuesday before the 112th Congress adjourned. Speaking on the House floor Wednesday morning, Himes urged Boehner to reverse his decision. He said that he remembered the damage caused by the storm, as well as the work by charitable organizations and first responders in the aftermath. He also recalled Lt. Russell Neary of the Easton Fire Department, who died in the line of duty after Sandy hit.
“He was killed that night doing what is best about all of us, which is that we stand up and we say, ‘We will help in times of crisis,’” Himes said. “Every charitable instinct, every dignified thing that is noble about what those people did that night is denied by the decision of the Republican leadership not to bring up Sandy today and to leave desperate and vulnerable people hanging.”
Malloy sent a letter to Boehner Wednesday urging him to reconsider. He said that the decision would likely delay aid for months. “It sends a terrible message to the citizens of the affected states that the leadership of the House of Representatives feels no sense of urgency, with winter upon us, to aid fellow citizens in their great time of need as Congress has done time and time again when other natural disasters have devastated communities elsewhere in this country.”
The cancellation of the vote drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying that Congress will vote on the package Friday. “Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations,” the statement read.
Congress will vote on an additional $51 billion in aid on Jan. 15.