Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Is John Boehner using Hurricane Sandy relief as leverage to gain a 2nd term as Speaker of the House?

The 112th Congress adjourned for the last time today.  The next meetings of both the House of Representatives and the Senate will take place tomorrow, but those will mark the beginning of the 113th Congress.

As such, all unfinished business (and there's a lot of it - one of the most unproductive sessions of Congress ever) of the 112th Congress is now dead, and that includes measures that would provide relief to those still suffering the from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of New Jersey, New York, and other northeastern states approximately two months ago.

The Senate passed a relief measure, but the Republican majority in the House refused to even consider it, much less pass it.

When they adjourned the 112th Congress today, effectively killing any relief for those who are still dealing with the destruction wrought by the historically destructive storm.

The callousness of the Republican leadership incensed people from all over the political spectrum, including Republicans from the affected areas -

Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), from the Los Angeles Times, written by Paul West -

"Shame on you. Shame on Congress," Christie said at a news conference in Trenton, the state capital. "It's absolutely disgraceful, and I have to tell you, this used to be something that was not political. Disaster relief was something you didn't play games with." But "in this current atmosphere, [it's] a potential piece of bait for the political game. It is why the American people hate Congress."

Congressman Peter King (R-NY) took to the floor of the House to express his outrage (video here, courtesy ABC News) -

"I'm saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds," he said in an interview on Fox News. "Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace."

Apparently, the Republican leadership is callous, but not deaf.  The uproar was loud enough to inspire the House leadership, in the persons of Speaker John Boehner and Majority leader (and Speaker-wannabe) Eric Cantor, to promise that Sandy relief will be the first thing on the new Congress' agenda.

Caving so quickly doesn't make much sense, until one remembers that the election for House Speaker is tomorrow.

And the votes of the Republican members of the delegations from NY, NJ, and the other states affected by Sandy could be crucial to the eventual victor (I'm betting on Boehner is this horse race, but my insight into internal R caucus politics is limited, to say the least).

I'll be keeping an eye on news reports while I'm at work tomorrow and suggest that those who can also do that, do so.

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