Lowey, Engel Criticize Disaster Relief Voting Delay

The two NY representatives said the House should have voted on the funding Tuesday night.

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), incoming Ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement regarding Speaker Boehner’s plan to move forward in January on emergency disaster relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy:                                                                       

“It is a fundamental obligation of the federal government to help families, businesses, and communities affected by natural disasters recover and rebuild.  A bipartisan majority of the Senate voted last week to meet this responsibility, and had a vote occurred last night, a bipartisan majority of the House would have done so as well.

“While passing emergency disaster relief should have been completed before the end of the 112th Congress, it is good to learn of House Republican leadership’s commitment to make Sandy victims the first priority of the 113th Congress.  

“Now that this commitment to consider the full supplemental appropriations package has been made, I will continue working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure it is kept.”

Fellow Congress member Eliot Engel (D-NY) also responded to the lack of action. In a statment, he "called the decision by House leadership not to allow a vote for the relief shameful and appropriate for this do-nothing Congress to end by doing nothing."

"The Senate already passed a measure providing $60 billion to the affected areas," Engel stated. "The relief bill will need to start over when the new Congress is sworn in on Thursday."

“We have until noon (Thursday) to pass the Senate bill to help those devastated by Sandy, or to pass new legislation and ask the Senate to pass it by acclamation.  There is still time to help families recover, businesses rebound and municipalities to avoid potential bankruptcy. It is just compounding the disaster to withhold aid for no reason. If Republican leadership can’t do that, then I do not understand how they can look at themselves in the mirror.

“Should nothing happen before the 113th Congress is sworn in at noon (Thursday) we need to vote immediately with the new Congress all in the room and ready to go. There is a very important vote scheduled for Speaker – the next vote needs to be for the millions of Americans who have been suffering since the hurricane.  The current Republican leadership has shown a disturbing lack of leadership on this issue and needs to do what is right.  Our state has always been ready to help when disaster strikes others – and I am sure the rest of the country is ready to act to help us. Why the Speaker doesn’t understand this is completely baffling to me.”

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