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John Boehner's decision to delay a vote on Hurricane Sandy aid will not go down as one of his finest moments.

Sixty-seven House Republicans voted today against approving relief aid to communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Here's a scoreboard so you can see how your representative voted: (Yeas and nays) The Senate unanimously approved the measure.

But this post isn't entirely a rant about those 67 representatives, because there is more than mere obstructionism behind their votes. (The rant comes later.) FoxNews reports today's vote provides $9.7 billion to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program, which was due to run out of money next week. A separate vote will be taken on providing an additional $51 billion in flood aid for the affected communities. (Complete story here.)

This second vote could be more divisive. Fox reports the $51 billion plan includes a $4 million repair job at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; $150 million for fisheries in a range of states, including Alaska and Mississippi; $821 million for dredging projects nationwide in natural disaster areas, but not necessarily those affected by Sandy; and nearly $45 million for work on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane reconnaissance aircraft.

CNN also cited $8 million for cars for the Homeland Security and Justice departments, $2 million for the Smithsonian to repair roofs, and $100 million for repair of Head Start facilities. (Full story here.) That's well over a billion dollars in spending that should be cut from the proposal and considered seprately on their own merits. Either that or the money for those side projects should be sent directly to Sandy victims.

The Washington Post reports the House Republicans argued the additional disaster spending should be offset with cuts to other government programs. Here is where the "Say No 67" are being cruel, callous and cynical — continuing a theme established by House Speaker John Boehner, who spinelessly pulled the bill from the floor late Tuesday because he didn't like the timing of it in the immediate wake of fiscal cliff negotiations. A Republican governor, Chris Christie of New Jersey, had the most spot-on response to Boehner's timidity, blaming Republicans' “toxic internal politics” for the delay.

Back to the "Say No 67": This is not the time to find spending cuts to offset an immediate need. Aid for Hurricane Sandy victims is long overdue. Spending cuts to offset this aid should be done at a more thoughtful pace after the additional aid is approved. Sandy slammed the East Coast at the end of October. The catastrophe/cleanup/recovery is now two months old. Federal aid for the devastated communities is, by my reckoning, about eight weeks overdue. For the "Say No 67" to hold out aid for dogmatic budgetary reasons is unconscionable.


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March 2017

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