Buckle up: The Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill could be in trouble. Again.The issue: instead of bringing legislation authorizing the remaining $51 billion to the floor for an up-or-down vote, Boehner is planning to split the bill into two pieces, one of which funds disaster insurance and the other of which would rebuild infrastructure destroyed during the storm. Moreover, he's allowing votes on amendments, a move which will give House Republicans the opportunity to add unrelated spending cuts (euphemistically called "offsets") to the legislation.
At least that's what some House Republicans fear. Or hope, depending on whom you ask.
The insurance portion probably isn't in jeopardy, but the infrastructure piece is likely to come under withering assault and will only pass with overwhelming Democratic support. If Republicans are successful in loading up the bill with spending cuts, however, they will have added poison pills to the bill, effectively dooming it.
The mere fact that the amendments are going to be allowed appears to be a violation of Boehner's promise to King—or at least a violation of what King claimed to have been promised. Appearing on CNN after announcing Boehner's pledge, King said the aid package would be a clean bill without offsets. "It's not going to be done now," he said. "It shouldn't be done, and it won't be." (The video of King's remarks is at the top of this post.)
If House Republicans do succeed in blocking all or part of the Hurricane Sandy relief package, it will put an exclamation point on King's admission that Republicans are biased against the northeast. Indeed, the mere fact that they are still considering blocking the aid demonstrates their anti-northeast bias. And keep in mind, despite all their whining about how northeasterners supposedly look down their noses at the south, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the northeastern United States was overwhelmingly supportive of their fellow citizens, approving more than $60 billion in aid within two weeks of the storm hitting the coast. And not a single House Democrat voted no.