Grimm facing uphill battle getting Sandy relief bill passed

With the House of Representatives set to vote on a $51 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package on Jan. 15, U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Brooklyn-Staten Island) said he’s spending nearly every waking moment trying to persuade his colleagues to vote for the bill.

“Failure is not an option on this,” Grimm told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “We need the money to help our communities and our small businesses.”

Grimm admitted that he is facing an uphill battle in his efforts to garner support for the aid bill among his fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill. “There are some members who fully get it. But there are others who are dug into the positions they took long before Sandy. The talk about the need to offset the costs,” he said.

Grimm was referring to house members who want federal spending on Sandy relief to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

“All I need to get this thing passed is 217 votes. I’m not looking for a super majority here. My goal is to pass it,” he said.

Grimm has even taken house colleagues on a tour of the areas hit by Sandy so that they could see firsthand the destruction the Oct. 29 super-storm caused. 

Grimm and U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) were among a group of GOP house members who had a closed door meeting with House Speaker John Boehner after he pulled a $60.4 billion Sandy relief bill off the floor on Jan. 1. The Senate had already approved the bill. King was particularly incensed that the bill was yanked off the floor.

After that meeting, Boehner announced that the relief package would be voted on by the house in two parts. 

Last week, the house voted to approve a $9 billion insurance bill. The Washington Post reported that the bill faced opposition from Republicans from outside the New York-New Jersey area

Grimm, whose Staten Island constituents are still recovering from the devastation the hurricane caused, said he sees his job as having to make sure his colleagues understand the need for the funds. “I have to explain not only how the money is going to be spent, but why it is needed,” he said. 

“We need it for our residents whose lives were torn apart. We need it for our small business owners. The mom and pop stores are the backbone of our local economy,” he said.