Odd Man Out
House Speaker John Boehner has been blasted by a slew of local elected officials for delaying the vote on the Hurricane Sandy federal aid package, but at least one politician in New York City appreciates the way he handled the situation. Yesterday, all but two of the sitting City Council members joined Council Speaker Christine Quinn in sending a letter to Mr. Boehner calling his decision to delay the vote “heartless and unfair.” However, Councilman Dan Halloran did not sign on and instead sent a letter of his own to Mr. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in which he expressed his appreciation that the House delayed the Sandy package that was approved by the Senate because it contained too much unrelated pork and his desire for Congress to pass a more “responsible” bill than the one currently on the table.
“As a fiscal conservative and a hawk on reckless government spending, I appreciate the House’s desire to create a responsible bill that will provide the necessary aide [sic] to the affected areas,” Mr. Halloran wrote. “The federal government must act immediately to pass a bill that will address these storm related costs without creating a slush fund of pet projects around the country and around the world.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner is taking heat from all sides for delaying the decisive vote on the post-Hurricane Sandy federal aid package. Even his fellow Republicans have blasted Mr. Boehner. Many of the local Democrats who jumped into the fray used the motif of the famous 1975 Daily News cover that implied Gerald Ford told the city to “drop dead” when he vowed to veto federal aid to the five boroughs in their assessments of Mr. Boehner’s conduct. Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson explicitly credited his source material in his shot at Mr. Boehner.
“The decision by House Speaker John Boehner to postpone a vote on Hurricane Sandy aid for the New York region is a travesty of epic proportions,” Mr. Thompson said in a statement. “The move is reminiscent of the famous newspaper headline from the 1970’s when the federal government refused to help New York City in a time of need. ‘Boehner to City: Drop Dead’ is an appropriate headline for the Speaker’s actions.”
Rock You Like a Hurricane
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement this afternoon urging the House of Representatives to quickly approve the White House-backed $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy supplemental aid package. The Senate is expected to vote on the recovery funds today, and Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he is optimistic it will be approved. Getting approval for the aid package from the GOP majority in the House, however, is expected to be more difficult. In his statement, Governor Cuomo urged the House to clear the funds without extended debate.
“The members of the House will be in Washington this weekend and, while a fiscal cliff deal remains elusive, passing the Sandy aid package should not be a matter impacted, much less stalled, by the same partisan contention or parliamentary process,” the governor said. “Our demonstrated need and the House’s past precedent should make this vote a slam dunk.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo spent the day in Washington yesterday lobbying for the approximately $40 billion in federal aid he is asking for to help the state recover from Hurricane Sandy. Politicker spoke with sources familiar with the governor’s schedule to get details on how he spent his time and who he met with on his first trip to Washington since taking office.
“The governor hit the trifecta; the White House, the Majority Leader and the speaker,” an administration official said.
Don't Call it a Comeback
Former Congressman Anthony Weiner has kept a relatively low profile in the year-and-change since a scandal over lewd Twitter messages led to his resignation, but last week, he took to the pages of the New York Daily News to write an op-ed with Congressman Gregory Meeks highlighting the post-Sandy needs of the Rockaways. Mr. Weiner’s editorial struck many observers as a “step back onto the political stage,” but Mr. Meeks told Politicker he doesn’t think a return to the public eye was part of his ex-colleague’s motivations for writing the editorial.
Most of the discussion surrounding the request New York is making for billions in Sandy recovery aid has focused on repairing the damage caused by the storm. However, at yesterday’s press conference where he discussed the push for federal aid, Senator Chuck Schumer said the efforts of elected officials will also include securing funds for storm protection projects.
“There is money for mitigation,” Mr. Schumer said in response to a question from Politicker. “I don’t know New Jersey’s division yet, but New York’s is 32 billion for the actual damage that occurred, for recovery from that, and 9 billion for mitigation.”
WASHINGTON — Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg sounded quite skeptical the city would get the billions of dollars in federal aid he is requesting after Hurricane Sandy when he sarcastically joked that he was as “optimistic” about the prospect of getting the funds as he had been about getting the West Side stadium he unsuccessfully pushed for. At the press conference after his series of meetings with lawmakers and officials in Washington today he sounded far more confident, so Politicker asked whether he was now more genuinely optimistic his request for aid would be fulfilled
“I’m always genuinely optimistic, although I will say we’re unlikely to get the stadium on the West Side,” Mr. Bloomberg said with a laugh. “I walked away this morning as optimistic as you could be. Nothing is ever done until it’s done. There is always a possibility of other things occurring during the process…but from both Republicans and Democrats in both houses, we got very optimistic buzz, if you will.”
President Obama’s trip to Staten Island today was filled with thanks from local elected officials and residents who praised him for showing up and for the government’s response to Hurricane Sandy. However, there were also signs some Staten Islanders were dissatisfied with the aid they’ve received since the storm.
After the Flood
Two days after Hurricane Sandy hit New York, Barbara Garofalo, a lifelong Sea Gate resident, stood in front of the community’s chapel, which had been turned into a makeshift headquarters for emergency personnel.
She watched bulldozers work their way through the ruins of the neighborhood’s private beach club, surveying the piles of rubble and twisted metal and the uprooted cabanas that littered the streets after the storm sent waves crashing through the neighborhood’s beachfront homes, ripping several off their foundations. Eyeing the damage, Ms. Garofalo couldn’t help but wonder whether some of the houses could have been saved if a planned government project to reinforce the community’s beaches had started sooner.
“They have the money in process, but they haven’t started it yet,” said Ms. Garofalo. “Maybe we would have had water damage, but maybe would have—could have saved the homes. Every home on the beach is gone. It breaks my heart.”
Hardball host Chris Matthews is facing the wrath of Staten Islanders affected by Hurricane Sandy after he said he was glad the storm occurred on the air.
During his election night wrap-up on Tuesday, Mr. Matthews said it was “a good day for America,” and added, “I’m so glad we had that storm last week.” After Rachel Maddow, who was seated next to him, gave an audible “ooh,” at his choice of words, Mr. Matthews countered, ”No, politically, I should say–not in terms of hurting people. The storm brought in possibilities for good politics.”
According to the Staten Island Advance, Mr. Matthews’ remarks didn’t go over very well with New York City’s least-populated borough, which suffered a majority of Hurricane Sandy’s fatalities in the city.