Hurricane Sandy Relief Vote: John Boehner Schedules Vote, Stopping Near-Mutiny Among GOP
Originally slated for Tuesday night, the House vote on the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill was cancelled at the last minute by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R - Ohio) — a decision that has received harsh criticism from many in his own party.
The $60 billion relief package was proposed by the Obama administration and has received heavy criticism over the pork-barrel spending in the bill. However, the bill passed the senate last Friday, and to the delight of New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie (R), the bill's vote was scheduled for Tuesday night following the vote on the controversial "fiscal cliff" bill.
In a last minute decision, and citing a need for the House to rest, Boehner decided to scrap the vote, which prompted an un-favorable response from Christie and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R - Va.).
In a press conference held on Wednesday, Christie said that he was assured over the weekend that the vote would be held on Tuesday, and that he spent the majority of Monday and Tuesday locking in votes for the bill. After discovering the vote had been cancelled, Christie tried contacting Boehner, but said the Speaker would not take his calls.
Citing that political games were behind Boehner's decision, Christie spent the better half of the 30-minute press conference excoriating Boehner, and vowing to continue his fight for the bill's approval.
All of the backlash aimed at Boehner has proved fruitful for the bill's proponents, and he has scheduled a vote for Friday — with one minor catch.
Friday's vote will only be for the allocation of $9 billion of the bill's $60 billion proposed. If the bill passes the House on Friday, the senate will also have to approve before the bill can be signed by the president.
The $9 billion in question will be used toward flood insurance claims filed by homeowners and businesses with coverage — of which, proponents say will at least get the ball rolling on the east coast's recovery.
As far as the bill's remaining $51 billion, Speaker Boehner also announced Wednesday that he has scheduled a vote on January 15 for the House to approve or deny those funds.
Whether or not the Sandy relief bill will pass the House is still up in the air; however, Boehner's decision to split the vote may show some indication to the outcome. On account that Friday's vote seems to only be on emergency funds, it's likely that portion of the bill will pass. However, the remaining $51 billion contains much of the scrutinized pork-barrel spending, and now the House has plenty of time to debate the validity of those funds, which may lead to the House's denial of the $51 billion.
Although Boehner has offered no real reason for the vote's cancellation, it may prove to be rooted in fiscal responsibility, albeit by way of political gaming. However, until the last vote is cast, we can only speculate.
Either way, it appears that Boehner has quelled the near mutiny and has appeased his detractors — at least for now.