The federal government does many things, but its primary duty is to protect the American people from threats, both at home and abroad. That is why the House GOP’s inaction on aiding suffering people along the East Coast who have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy was referred to as a “cruel knife in the back,” by Rep. Peter King (R-NY).
It is time for the House majority leadership to put the knives away and come to the aid of those suffering immeasurably from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. They need their lives rebuilt, their homes restored, their shuttered businesses reopened and their transportation systems repaired and fortified. That’s what Americans do when Americans are suffering.
We are on Day 67 since Sandy hit the East Coast and the House GOP has yet to approve a dime for the billions in destroyed homes, businesses, transportation systems and other vital infrastructure. The Senate passed a bipartisan relief bill in December that now just sits as the House GOP plays austerity politics with peoples’ lives.
The House Majority finally relented (sort of) to public condemnations from House GOP members and governors and has agreed to put a $9 billion emergency flood insurance bill on the House floor tomorrow. That’s a first step. But those on the East Coast (yes, Democrats, Republicans, independents, even a few socialists I’ll bet) need more than $60 billion to put this horror behind them.
Homes destroyed. Bridges swept away. Transit and rail systems pummeled. Tunnels flooded. Electric grid networks ruined. Air traffic control facilities and airports severely damaged. The savagery of Sandy is real – it isn’t some abstract concept difficult to get your head around. The depths of winter are now here and we actually have people and businesses still homeless from Sandy’s destruction.
A quick reminder. It took 10 days for Congress to pass the first relief legislation for hurricane Katrina victims in the Gulf States in 2005; in 12 days Congress acted to help those suffering from hurricane Ike in 2008. Now we are in week 10 and the victims of Sandy still wait. What a disgrace.
Let’s look at some of the extremists’ arguments against passing a Sandy relief bill. “We need offsets,” they said. Really? We put two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the credit card, yet to help fellow Americans decimated by a natural disaster we need offsets? We should just provide relief assistance to fix what is broken and not allocate funds to strengthen and fortify our vulnerable infrastructure. Really? I don’t recall anyone crying out against rebuilding the Gulf Coast levies to higher engineering specs so they can withstand another fierce storm like Katrina. That argument is just plain stupid. Who has ever heard of replacing 1930s era infrastructure with 1930s era infrastructure in 2013?
This isn’t brain surgery. The House, often referred to as “The Peoples’ House,” needs to come to the aid of the people. That’s why elected representatives are in office in the first place.