Up   |  March 30, 2013

Congress flubs Sandy relief funds

From Jan. 6, 2013: Up w/ Chris Hayes and his panelists - including Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., New York State Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat; Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense; and Fran O’Connor, a resident of Sayreville, New Jersey who is still displaced by Hurricane Sandy - discuss Congress’ response to Sandy relief funding.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good morning from new york . i'm chris hayes . as you may know we're making changes. on monday i have a new program airing week nights at 8:00. "up" is staying put. we thought this was a good opportunity to revisit some of the segments we think demonstrate the values we tried to bring to this enterprise in the last 18 months. today explorations of government power to control the internet, to kill without did you process and to mint a million dollar coin. i want to start with the aftermath of hurricane sandy. right now i'm joined by a freshman congress man from new york , a democratic who represents staten island , and vice president of taxpayers for conference sense and a resident of new jersey who is displaced by hurricane sandy. on friday afternoon the new 113th congress including the gentlemen here approved $9.7 billion in immediate aid for victims of hurricane sandy. the $9.7 billion is a frktion of the aid package that passed by the senate without any explanation john boehner decided not to vote on before the 112th congress ended. the decision occasioned a rare full scale , full spectrum my tiny. on wednesday republican congressman peter king attacked his fellow republicans on tv screens across the country.

>> i'm saying right now anyone from new york or new jersey contributes one penny to congressional republicans is out of their mind. they wonder why they are becoming a minority party , why we're going to be a permanent minority, what they did last night is so immoral, so disgraceful, so irresponsible.

>> new jersey governor chris christie blamed not only his fellow republicans for what he described as a betrayal but specifically speaker boehner .

>> there's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims. the house majority and their speaker john boehner . 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 jerseyians and new yorkers are tired of being treated like second class citizens.

>> speaker boehner has responded to the furor by back tracking planning to vote on the aid. if anything his swift reversal gave his country a look not only the internal revisions in the caucus but how woefully the republicans are unprepared for future storms. new member of congress , congressman jeffrey, congratulations, you took the oath this week.

>> thanks.

>> what ethic happened down there? i mean, the weirdest thing about it i have to say was, and we'll get into this because i was prepping for, you know, for the show and looking at the bill and actually if you start to dig into the bill there's a whole lot of things to object to it. you could have made an argument in it but nobody made an argument against it. they killed it. it was bizarre.

>> the events of the last week certainly made won ponder about a full ring circus. but what's interest is with the election of the speaker, hopefully we can see, you know, the shenanigans of the last week or so put in the past and focus on the business of doing the people's business. what was interesting is that it really does appear that the speaker concluded after the fiscal cliff vote on january 1st that it was untenable for him to bring the $60 billion flood relief bill to the floor given the mood of a significant number of members of the republican congress .

>> he alienated members of congress because they felt he caved, the white house won and next thing he'll do that week and last thing they do before they close up the lights $60 billion in spending.

>> there's a concern amongst many members on the republican side with the debt and the deficit and after adding at least in the view of many of them an additional $4 trillion based on the package that was passed to bring another $60 billion in this context -- the problem is disaster relief has traditionally been immune from the stachb partisan politics . yet for the first time in modern american history it was injected.

>> fran, i want to get your perspective on this because you're still not in your house, right?

>> i'm not in my house.

>> you're house flooded during hurricane sandy. how did you respond watching this whole thing go down?

>> it's very disheartening. you know, everyone in government constantly tells us, reaches out to us especially right after the storm to say we're there for you, we're going to do everything we can to help you and here we are at day 68 and we have not received anything from our insurance companies . we've had all our adjusters come out. but now we're watching our government officials say it doesn't matter if there's not enough money to pay your claims. it's not important enough. we'll push this off. we're at day 68 and everyone is displaced. people cannot get back into their homes.

>> well, i think that one is it was pure politics, no doubt about it. another package that was going to pass with a minority of the majority and that was an issue for speaker boehner and that's why it went away. part of the problem is it shouldn't have taken this long. we should have debate this a lot earlier. the president didn't submit his package to congress until december 7th . it was well after the storm. certainly the senate took its time and actually added in a lot of extra provision. those provisions are the things that delay it. because it that's $150 million for fisheries disaster in alaska and mississippi . that slows the progress of the bill. absolutely the $9.7 billion which was to basically to fund, allow the national flood insurance program to borrow from transformationy an additional amount had to be done. we have to keep just like the debt ceiling we have to make sure we pay our bills. people bought flood insurance policies, paid their premiums, we need to pay those off.

>> i want to talk about flood insurance in a second. hold that thought.

>> let's go back to what happened to speaker boehner . what we saw on display was the worst kind of politics and the kind of thing that turns people off to government in general and to congress . john boehner was not so much about the vote on the sandy relief package he was concerned about the vote on his leadership. he was more interested in acleader than leading on issue that's affecting thousands of people i represent. what's even more distressing is in this whole discussion not whether this bill was lauded up with pork and what pork means. what was really distressing is there is this narrative that says in order for us from vied relief to fran someone else has to suffer first. that's a very dangerous precedent.

>> let me play this sound. this is in the wake of hurricane irene in 2011 . whenever something like this happens we'll have some type of emergency. as it should. things get destroyed. core roles of government. up said we hadn't seen this partisanship before but here's eric cantor stipulation as a general principle emergency supplemental has to come out of somebody's post.

>> my money that comes out for hurricane irene needs to be met $for $with spending cuts?

>> the house has funded over a billion dollars for additional disaster relief money. that money was offset by savings elsewhere. just like any family would operate when it's struck with disaster, it finds the money i want needs to take care of a sick loved one or what have you and goes without trying to buy a new car or put an addition on the house.

>> i'll just point out --

>> please.

>> hurricane irene --

>> that was remarkable. say what you will, he was putting his money where his mouth was.

>> exactly. i'll point out something i never said pork. oil be clear. there's things in here that are nice to have would like to have that are important. i mean i know that --

>> like tofu. something helpful.

>> but we don't need to have right now and it should to be done as an emergency. the key thing is when you designate something as an emergency it means it doesn't count against the budget caps. but it does deed our $1 trillion deficit and does add --

>> it also means it's hard to vote for without getting killed on programs such as these or by chris christie , and finally --

>> you know a couple of differences here. first of all, in this particular instance you have the senate that pass ad bill $60 billion. the speaker promise ad vote on the bill to several people as well as publicly prior to the close of the 112th congress and then he went back on his word as peter king indicated, it was a knife stab in the back. the other thing that's interesting here the states of new york and new jersey along with a few other states california and illinois, new york and new jersey which were hit hard are donor states . these are states that regularly send tens of billions of dollars more to the federal government than we get back in return. we consistently step up for america and in this particular instance we asked america to step up for us and the congress to date has failed.

>> i'm not defending what happened on the floor and the way it transpired. i would have much rather -- i'm all for debate and amendments. that's the american process. that's a wonderful process. often you see one chamber jam the other chamber or what happened here at this time. they should have tone the 9.7 billion. we need to debate the rest of this package. quite frankly, i worked on the senate bill . i read the senate bill many times. in read it just recently after it was enacted or passed. in between sometime on the floor that i missed, they redesignated some of the core engineers construction fund sewing it wouldn't go to sandy reconstruction but dealt with hurricane isaac and portions of states that are in the mississippi valley , division of core of engineers. what are those two states ? louisiana and mississippi . who are those people behind that? probably the ranking member of the propositions committee and senior democrat on the committee. so that to me is part of the problem in the system and i don't want to get jammed.

>> why do you think they would be interested in putting that money in there. let's look that. the year of the flood comes every other year. as congressman jeffries says new york and new jersey are donor states . if we get back what we give to washington we wouldn't have a discussion about federal aid . what we do know is the likelihood is that places like mississippi and louisiana and florida and the gulf coast states they are going to get hit again a lot faster than we are and what's going to happen now you'll have members of congress from new york , new jersey and northeast states and look at them you know what we'll parcel out tide you slowly than you gave it to us.

>> this is sewing i learned this week in preparation. our flood policy is a total disaster. it's totally disastrous and you noted the experience firsthand. i want to talk about this. it may sound remote to you. listen to me we're going to have more floods so we need to get this flooded out. more on this after the break.