Commentary By Charles Otey, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Almost two weeks have passed since House Speaker John Boehner shockingly refused to let that very unpopular body vote to approve a desperately needed $61 billion Hurricane Sandy aid fund. The very same measure had passed the Senate with wholehearted support from most Republican senators and almost all the Democrats serving there.
Moments after the so-called “Fiscal Cliff’ was avoided, chaos broke out on Sandy Aid.
New York Reps. Mike Grimm and Peter King, both Republicans, took to the floor to denounce the Republican leadership delaying financial support to tens of thousands from the Jersey Shore into Brooklyn and Breezy Point up to Connecticut. Despite a number of public protests by both Grimm — whose Staten District included Midland where six people lost their lives during the hurricane — and King, there has been no satisfactory explanation by Boehner. He still won’t say why he pulled the Sandy bill and exposed Grimm, King and other Republicans to public ridicule.
While these two have returned to the GOP fold, there is no way New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will 'forgive' Boehner. In his no-holds-barred remarks Christie got to the heart of the matter noting that the national GOP, dominated by the South, is strongly biased against the East Coast.
One lame excuse offered by sources linked to Boehner is an age-old canard: It seemed some unnamed Republican house members thought the entire Sandy Aid bill had provisions that “required more study,” according to Politico and the Huffington Post.
Grimm has done a thorough job appealing to his slightly right of center 13th C.D., which includes all of Staten Island and GOP-leaning Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. In 2010 he won a close election with the sponsorship of Staten Island's political godfather, Guy V. Molinari, former congressman and S.I. borough president. Grimm has been effective and responsive in his district, most observers agree. He has weathered attacks of alleged fund-raising scandals and business problems. He handily defeated Dem. Mark Murphy in 2012 by a much larger margin than he garnered in narrowly edging out one term incumbent Dem. Mike McMahon in 2010.
It’s still been an uphill effort for him dealing with the anti-New York feelings of other GOP congress members in districts where long-standing sentiment against the entire Northeast still prevail. In a way not that much has changed for some since the days of Civil War Reconstruction in the South, all the way through Louisiana and Texas.
President Richard Nixon was among the first to realize GOP potential the other side of the Mason-Dixon Line–he called it his "Southern Strategy" capitalizing on the vitriol — which still roils the sons and daughters of the Confederacy.
Boehner’s timing in bowing to the now "Solid South" could have been worse. If the Ohio representative acted so cruelly to Sandy victims in an election year it would have been harmful to a Grimm candidacy.
Fortunately for Grimm, his spontaneous and very visible disgust with Boehner's East Coast vendetta insulates him from long lasting damage. By the time the next election rolls around in 2014 the Sandy funding will, hopefully, be rolling in.
Sen. Chuck Schumer angrily pointed out that congressional approval of Sandy funding has taken already more than times longer than it took congress to approve similar relief to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. As thousands go bankrupt and see their damaged homes deteriorating, Louisiana Republicans are still “studying” the Sandy Relief bill.