Count me among the people surprised that the House recessed yesterday without doing anything on potential funding for Hurricane Sandy relief. In the building, the punt came as a surprise in two ways. One: Those not from the Northeast had developed fiscal cliff tunnel vision, and gone days without mentioning the relief package. Two: Members expected to file out of the House and go home stuck around, engaging in high-class histrionics about the failure to move on the bill.
It was a classic Republican foul-up. Their reasons for opposing a broad Sandy relief package are twofold: They want to see it offset by cuts to less necessary spending, and they don’t want any other aid to creep into it. That’s a danger, always, with emergency legislation – it becomes a Christmas tree for legislators (in Alaska, in this case) who believe their states were shortchanged in previous disaster packages. Republicans wanted to pass the $9.7 billion package for the National Flood Insurance Program, then take a green eyeshade look at what other aid was needed. And instead they just kind of forgot about it.
If this does anything for Republicans, I guess that distracting Democrats this way prevents them from spending time discussing the role of climate change in natural disasters, which we’ve all sort of forgotten about since November.