House Speaker John Boehner has pledged to hold two votes in the House of Representatives this month to distribute aid to states impacted by Hurricane Sandy.
Just one day after he decided to pull emergency legislation from the floor to help victims suffering from the late October storm, Boehner, R-Ohio, met with a group of angry Republicans in his office Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to quiet a revolt sparking from members on both sides of the aisle.
"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," Boehner announced in a joint statement with Majority Leader Eric Cantor. "The House will vote Friday to direct needed resources to the National Flood Insurance Program. And on January 15th, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy."
Rep. Peter King, the Republican perhaps most infuriated by the delay Tuesday night, called the Wednesday meeting "extremely positive." He said Boehner assured members that he would allow a vote on Friday for a vote on about $9 billion in flood insurance relief and the speaker committed to a second vote later this month on an additional $51 billion in aid for the region.
"This is basically the same as we were promised yesterday or today, so this is the package we were looking for," King, R-N.Y., said. "For whatever reason, the speaker decided not to bring it to a vote this week. Obviously, we disagreed with that, but that's in the past. The bottom line is that between Friday morning and January 15th, those two votes will bring in $60 billion that's absolutely necessary for New York, for New Jersey and Connecticut."
"I feel that the assurances we had from both the speaker and the majority leader, Eric Cantor, are ironclad. I think we're going to proceed, and I think this recognizes the heartache and misery that both of our states or the region have suffered," Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., echoed. "It's about time Congress responded. I'm pleased that the speaker and the majority leader have listened to our pleas."
Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said that the delegations from the storm-ravaged region made their case "on substance."
"We've all read the information that came down from Governor Christie and from Governor Cuomo, line by line," Smith said. "This is all about people who are in dire straits...who have lost their homes, their businesses."
King said that the speaker decided "that in view of all the controversy over the fiscal cliff, it wasn't appropriate to bring this up either last night or this morning." Despite the turmoil, King said he will still vote for Boehner for House Speaker for the 113th Congress.
"Obviously, that was his decision. We disagreed with it and made it clear last night, but that's in the past," King reiterated. "All I care about is my constituents, the constituents of New York and New Jersey who are absolutely devastated. Clearly, the speaker responded."
Another ticked-off Republican, Rep. Michael Grimm, a freshman representing Staten Island, said he would vote for Boehner too. There's no question the speaker always wanted to help the people
"I will vote for Speaker Boehner," Grimm, R-N.Y., revealed. "I stayed behind [after the meeting]...because I wanted just a moment to actually look in the eyes and shake hands with not only the speaker but with Eric Cantor, and I can tell you that both of them shook my hand and gave me their word that this vote will go forward as planned and that they will be there for us."