Gov. Andrew Cuomo today praised Republican Rep. Peter King for putting public pressure on House Republican leaders, who have refused to allow vote on disaster relief legislation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
But he called on other influential Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Ed Cox, the state GOP chairman, for not speaking out enough on the issue.
“I think the Republicans in New York should rise up and speak with one voice,” Cuomo said at a cabinet meeting in Albany. “Peter King, I applaud his leadership. Where is the chairman of the Republican Party, Mr. Cox? Where is Sen. Skelos? I mean, these are the Republican leadership of the House saying to New York at this time, in this moment of need, they abandoned New York. And I think they should speak to their political colleagues and communicate with them the severity of the situation.”
Cox fired back at Cuomo that less vocal Republicans were working with congressional leaders behind the scenes in order to have the measure put up for a vote.
“We are working this hard, and for the governor to call us out is not the way to get something done,” Cox said. “If the governor wants to get something done, he shouldn’t call out the people working behind the scenes to get things done. For the governor to play politics on this, it’s unconscionable.”
Skelos, who represents Long Island, released a statement on Sandy aid during Cuomo’s cabinet meeting calling Congress’s failure to act “absolutely unconscionable.” A spokesman for the majority leader said he has had numerous conversations with King over the status of the relief bill.
“By walking away from the aid bill, the House leadership has turned their backs on New Yorkers in their time of need,” Skelos said in a statement. “Without action to provide federal aid, rebuilding homes and businesses and repairing vital infrastructure becomes even more of an uphill battle.”
Cox said he believes that Congress could still bring the bill to the floor by tomorrow, the last day of the current Congress. The next Congress is expected to take up disaster relief if the House doesn’t vote by tomorrow for a measure already passed by the Senate, though New York officials say displaced residents have already waited too long.
“The Senate tossed a lot at the House at the same time, which made this very difficult,” Cox said. “We were trying to do two things simultaneously.”