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Updated Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 09:01 AM

Boehner sets Sandy aid vote for Jan. 15 after heavy criticism

By Richard Simon
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner on Wednesday bowed to a revolt by Rep. Peter King and other angry lawmakers and scheduled House votes on a $60 billion Hurricane Sandy disaster-aid package over the next two weeks.

Boehner, R-Ohio — who decided late Tuesday to skip action on the aid package — told those House members Wednesday afternoon that he would hold a vote Friday on $9.7 billion in funding for federal flood insurance and another set of votes Jan. 15 on the remaining $50.3 billion, said King, R-N.Y.

Boehner scheduled the vote after a parade of officials from storm-ravaged New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, criticized Boehner for refusing to allow a vote on a $60 billion aid package.

"Sixty days and counting," Christie said, referring to the time that has passed since Sandy hit. "Shame on you. Shame on Congress. ... It's absolutely disgraceful."

King, in unusual public criticism of his GOP leader, complained about the "cruel knife in the back" delivered to the hard-hit states.

King suggested withholding campaign contributions to House Republicans, who have had "no problem finding New York when it comes to raising money."

The Republican leadership offered no explanation for putting off the vote.

The anger, at least among Boehner's GOP Northeast colleagues, appeared to ease after the speaker promised to schedule the Friday vote to help the national flood-insurance program cover Sandy claims. The Jan. 15 vote will involve the larger disaster-aid package.

The Senate approved $60 billion in disaster aid last week. House Republican leaders drafted a $27 billion relief bill, which was expected to come up for a vote in the chamber in the final days of the lame-duck Congress.

But when the vote was called off, Northeast lawmakers were infuriated.

A number of Republicans said they never received an explanation from Boehner on why he called off a vote. The speaker's office also declined to explain.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, left, and U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio.


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