How shocking is it, really, that John Boehner spiked Hurricane Sandy relief?
House Speaker John Boehner faced a minor revolt last night over a fiscal cliff deal that did not include any of the spending cuts that his members wanted.
Boehner had floated the idea of amending the Senate-brokered bill to include some spending cuts, but then backed down, claiming he didn't have the votes in his own conference to amend it. In the end, only 85 of 236 Republicans voted for the bill.
This followed his own inability, days ago, to get his own conference together on an alternative proposal.
So perhaps it's no surprise that Boehner didn't bring another big spending bill—$60.4 billion in relief for the states affected by Hurricane Sandy—to the floor for a vote immediately after the fiscal-cliff deal passed.
Republicans from New York and New Jersey had previously been told that there was an arrangement, negotiated by Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to allow the aid to come to the floor as two separate bills: one for the $27 billion that Republicans claimed was most of the urgent relief money, and another for the $33 billion that some in the party saw as extraneous.
Boehner's decision to adjourn the House without voting on the bill drew late-night consternation on the House floor, with Michael Grimm saying, "I'm here tonight saying to myself for the first time, that I'm not proud of the decision my team has made."
Pete King, once a Boehner ally, said today that "anyone from New York or New Jersey" would be crazy to give money to House Republicans now, and suggested he'd consider leaving his party.
Boehner's strategy seems to be to weather this round of criticism, secure his spot as speaker in a caucus vote on Thursday, and then, probably, start talking a lot about spending cuts, in the context of the debt ceiling and sequestration cuts that were delayed by two months.
It's not clear whether any of that makes Republicans more or less likely to vote for the full $60 billion hurricane-relief package. But it certainly delays the money pouring into New York and New Jersey, since the process begins anew, meaning the Senate will have to pass the bill again, with the possibility it will have to relitigate the complicated compromise that got it through in the first place.