WASHINGTON — Colorado’s House Republicans are still getting a tongue lashing from two New York congressmen for opposing a $50.7 billion hurricane relief package in January. But their ability to pass bills has not been affected.
The war of words began last Tuesday. After Congress voted to lift the cap on emergency transportation funds for flood relief, a New York Daily News reporter asked two U.S. Representatives of New York their reaction to the opposition of Colorado’s four House Republicans to disaster assistance for Hurricane Sandy.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) said he hoped that “New Yorkers make clear that these members are persona non grata in our town.”
Two of Crowley’s colleagues in the New York congressional delegation softened their language only slightly in follow-up interviews.
“I hope their conscience will take care of them, not mine,” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), the dean of the New York delegation, said in an interview Monday night.
“This (vote) went to the heart and soul of New York and New Jersey,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said in an interview last week. “(Opposing the bill) is something that you don’t forget, let’s put it that way.”
The superstorm Hurricane Sandy rendered 300,000 residents in New York and New Jersey homeless or powerless last fall. The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act for the tri-state region was proposed in late January; a $9.7 billion bill to raise the federal debt limit to pay homeowners who had taken out federal flood insurance passed Congress earlier that month.
As fiscal conservatives, Colorado’s House Republicans had reason to oppose the main bill already. The Heritage Foundation said the $50.7 billion legislative package was “filled with pork.” Then the members learned their effort to attach an emergency aid package for the devastating High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires in 2012 had failed.
Although the Republican house members in the Kansas and Arizona delegation had cast “no” votes on the bill unanimously too, Colorado Republicans received the brunt of criticism in the New York tabloids.
Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who had helped lead the Colorado delegation’s efforts to attach the wildfire relief amendment to the bill, described his vote against the Hurricane Sandy relief package as a protest. “They think people from New York and New Jersey are better than those from Colorado,” he said in an interview Tuesday.
“People feel differently about these issues,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) said.
Despite the emotional verbal exchange, a Colorado Republican noted members of the New York and New Jersey congressional delegations have not voted differently. House and Senate bills to raise the cap on emergency highway funds passed both chambers without opposition last Monday.
Lamborn said he had no plans to travel to New York this fall anyway.