After almost killing the fiscal cliff deal over the course of a few bizarre hours yesterday, you'd think it'd be impossible for House Republicans to make themselves look any more cruel and petty...
...And yet here's a video of Rep. Steve Womack, presiding officer in the House of Representatives last night, adjourning the House as he pretends to not hear the loud objections of house members furious that Republicans had reneged on a promise to take up a vote on an an emergency supplemental disaster aid bill for Hurricane Sandy relief — a decision that's led at least one New York Republican to threaten to switch parties.
A few hours before Womack lost his hearing, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had given the go-ahead for floor debate on a $27 billion bill with a $33 billion amendment (matching the amount passed by the Senate last week) — the idea being to pass it as quickly as possible and secure the aid before a new congress is sworn in on Thursday, necessitating a new bill be drafted and passed by both the House and Senate.
Boehner's said he'll bring a bill up again in the new congress by the end of the month. But this means weeks of negotiating the bill — and passing it through the Senate — were worthless. And as Politico details, "the failure of the House to act could have immediate consequences":
Current estimates are that the [flood insurance] fund will have exhausted its borrowing authority by the week of Jan. 7, and the White House has requested an increase of $9.7 billion - included in the Senate bill. It is believed that damage from Sandy will generate as many as 139,000 claims, but without an increase in the borrowing authority only about 12,000 of these can be covered from existing funds.
As you might expect, Republicans from New York and New Jersey are furious — Michael Grimm (whose Staten Island district was among the hardest-hit by the storm) called the broken promise "a betrayal.".
But the "going ham" award goes to Peter King, who represents part of Long Island, told CNN he hasn't ruled out switching parties. "Everybody played by the rules, except tonight when the rope is pulled out from under us," King said last night (on CNN, he used a slightly more violent metaphor: "what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans"). "Absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We have a moral obligation to hold this vote."