By Paula Katinas and Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Reps. Michael Grimm, a Republican, and Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat, both represent districts that are partially in Brooklyn, but they are usually on opposite sides of the fence.
While the men do not agree on much, both said on Wednesday -- in angry House floor remarks -- that House Speaker John Boehner's decision to pull aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy amounted to a crushing blow to states battered by the late October storm.
"There was a betrayal," said Grimm, who represents Bay Ridge and Staten Island.
The Senate approved a $60.4 billion measure Friday to help with recovery from the storm that devastated parts of New York, New Jersey and nearby states. The House Appropriations Committee has drafted a smaller $27 billion measure, and a vote had been expected before Congress' term ends Thursday at noon. An amendment for $33 billion in additional aid, partly to protect against future storms, was also being considered but was seen as having less chance of passage.
Grimm and Nadler, whose district encompasses Lower Manhattan and much of Southern Brooklyn, were among several New York and New Jersey lawmakers who took to the House floor to complain about Boehner's move. The lawmakers said Boehner pulled the bill without talking to them.
"It's the most disgraceful action I've seen in this House," said Nadler. "It is a betrayal by the speaker personally of the members of this House," Nadler said.
The bill would have provided $60.4 billion in relief to states like New York that were hit hard by the super-storm. Among the areas in Brooklyn that were hit hard by the storm were Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay, and Gerritsen Beach.
The two Brooklyn congressmen were not alone -- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., raised the political temperature even more. She said Boehner should come to Staten Island and the Rockaways to explain his decision to families whose homes and businesses were destroyed, and added, "But I doubt he has the dignity nor the guts to do it."
That wasn't the only thing that united the two recently: both voted “yes” when it came to saving the U.S. from going over the so-called fiscal cliff.
Grimm said that while he was pleased the "Fiscal Cliff" 'bill maintained tax cuts for 99 percent of Americans, he was disappointed that the legislation did not include any spending cuts.
“I do have serious concerns that this package does not contain the necessary spending cuts to reduce our nation’s massive debt,” Grimm said. “The reality is that we are out of time, and it would be irresponsible to continue to play politics with the lives of the American people or put our financial markets at risk by failing to act,” Grimm said.
“This is not the compromise I would have chosen – nor one that I intended to support - but after taking a closer read, the benefits do outweigh the costs as we move to protect the hard-working people of Staten Island and Brooklyn from a massive tax hike and further blow to their budgets,” Grimm said.
Late Tuesday night, the House passed the "Fiscal Cliff" bill late New Year’s Day over the objections of many Republicans.
On the other side of the aisle, Nadler said he was happy that the bill postponed any spending cuts for two months.
“While this isn’t a perfect bill, it does provide reforms and certainty to our tax code and postpones painful spending cuts that our nation doesn’t need,” Nadler said. “This bill will prevent an immediate fiscal crisis, generate new revenue by asking the wealthiest among us pay a bit more in taxes, and extend unemployment benefits for the millions of people who depend on them,” he said.
Noting that another battle over raising the nation’s debt ceiling is looming in February, Nadler called for the debt ceiling to be eliminated. “We must work toward full economic recovery and provide genuine and immediate support for the American people. Then we must ensure that we never have another crisis in which the American economy is held hostage to advance the political demands of the most unreasonable and extremist members of congress. The simplest way to do that is to abolish the debt ceiling once-and-for-all, and I have introduced and will re-introduce legislation to do just that,” he said.
The Associated Press, among other outlets, reports that Congress has been assured that a Sandy vote will take place by Jan. 15.