House Democrats continued that theme in floor debates on the bill on Friday. It’s indefensible, said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D) of New York, that the Republican majority “could not get their act together” in time to pass the bill in the last Congress.
“[The storm victims] are human beings,” said Rep. Michael Grimm (R) of New York, who was elected in 2010 with tea party backing. “It’s up to us to get them back on their feet.”
Pressure from Northeast lawmakers came to bear in a different way as well. The New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut delegations are strongly Democratic, with 34 Democrats in the outgoing Congress, but there were also 13 Republicans in that group. Threats from GOP lawmakers to not back Boehner's reelection bid as speaker in elections Thursday in retaliation for postponing a vote on Sandy aid could have denied him election on the first ballot, putting the outcome in doubt.
Responding to the pressure, GOP House leaders quickly scheduled a Sandy relief vote on Friday.
The fiscal cliff saga had bearing on the delayed Sandy vote as well. In approving the Senate’s fiscal cliff bill, the House voted to raise income tax rates or the first time in 20 years. The bill also deferred billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts.