WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. House adjourned Wednesday without considering relief for Superstorm Sandy victims, despite calls by the president, governors and lawmakers to do so.
The next House session is set for 11 a.m. Thursday, when the new Congress convenes. If no action is taken before the new Congress gavels in, the legislative process will have to start over.
President Barack Obama urged the House to take up relief for Superstorm Sandy victims Wednesday, saying they were "still trying to put their lives back together."
In a statement issued by the White House Wednesday, Obama criticized House Republican leaders, noting that the Senate passed his request for aid with bipartisan support.
"But the House of Representatives has refused to act, even as there are families and communities who still need our help to rebuild in the months and years ahead, and who also still need immediate support with the bulk of winter still in front of us," Obama said. "When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need. I urge Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same, bring this important request to a vote today, and pass it without delay for our fellow Americans.
"Our citizens are still trying to put their lives back together," Obama said. "Our states are still trying to rebuild vital infrastructure."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, ripped by Northeast lawmakers in both parties, has pledged to pass a relief bill in January, The Hill reported.
"The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month," Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.
Christie, a Republican, and Cuomo, a Democrat, said in a joint statement it was "inexcusable" that the House wasn't voting on a bill, The Hill said.
During a news conference Wednesday, Christie made clear he blamed Boehner and House Republicans for failing to hold a vote on supplemental Hurricane Sandy relief, The Hill said.
"Thirty-one days for Andrew victims. Seventeen days for victims of Gustav and Ike. Ten days for victims of Katrina," Christie said, listing other hurricanes. "For the victims of Sandy, New York and Connecticut, it's been 66 days and the wait continues.
"There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their Speaker, John Boehner," Christie said. "This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. Natural disasters happen in red states and blue states, in states with Democratic governors and Republican governors. We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans. Or at least we did until last night. Last night, politics was placed before our oath to serve our citizens. For me it was both disappointing and disgusting to watch.
"Shame on Congress," Christie said.
Responding to the pressure, Boehner said he would meet Wednesday afternoon with GOP lawmakers from the affected states, a GOP aide said earlier in the day.
The Hill reported House leaders were planning to allow a vote on the $27 billion bill and on an amendment that would increase the aid by another $33 billion -- roughly matching the Senate-passed $60.4 billion bill.
However, plans changed after most members of the GOP voted against the so-called fiscal cliff bill because it did not provide for spending cuts they want, and the leadership said it wouldn't ask its members to approve $60 billion in new spending.
That decision prompted cries of foul from members of Congress who represent areas devastated when the deadly October storm slashed through New Jersey and New York before turning inland. At least 113 people died in the United States.
"It is disgraceful. It even makes it worse being a Republican. It is terrible. I mean, my district was devastated," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who represents part of Long Island hit by the storm. "The whole region was devastated and we have never had a natural disaster before where Congress walked away."
"The leadership just walked away," Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said.
Republican sources told The Hill they anticipate the House will consider and resolve the issue "promptly" this month. The GOP officials pointed out that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has indicated its disaster relief fund will have a positive balance until March.
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