Last night, the House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service, and they did so with callous indifference to the suffering of the people of my state. If you want an example of how non-partisan this issue should have been, I offer this for your consideration: near midnight last night, conservative Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California both spoke on the floor in concert with each other in support of (the Hurricane Sandy) aid package. It’s one for the record books, I suspect.
On the equities, this one should be a no-brainer for the House Republicans, as well. Both New York and New Jersey used the international firm of McKinsey & Co. to assess and quantify the damage to our states. Our professional staffs have spent countless hours with Congressional staff providing leadership and backup documentation for ALL of the damage claims. Governor Cuomo and I have spent hours and hours speaking to individual members of the House and Senate to answer their questions. We worked with President Obama and his administration to satisfy them of the urgent need of this $60 billion aid package.
This was good enough for 62 United States Senators — of both parties — to vote for this package. This was good enough for a majority of the House of Representatives. It overcame all the factual challenges. It just could not overcome the toxic, internal politics of the House majority.
Finally, New Jersey and New York are perenially among the most generous states in the nation to our fellow states. We vote for disaster relief for other states in need; we are donor states sending much more to Washington D.C. than we ever get back in federal spending. Despite this history of unbridled generosity, in our hour of desperate need, we’ve been left waiting for help six times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight.
Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress which places one-upsmanship ahead of the lives of the citizens who sent these people to Washington D.C. in the first place.
New Jerseyans and New Yorkers are tired of being treated like second-class citizens. New York deserves better than the selfishness that we saw displayed last night; New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw on display last night. America deserves better than just another example of the government that has forgotten who they’re there to serve, and why.
66 days and counting. Shame on you; shame on Congress.