On Tuesday, the House could vote on $51 billion in federal relief for states affected by Superstorm Sandy. The debate over the Superstorm Sandy aid package, a $17-billion bill with an additional $34 billion amendment, has exposed divisions within the Republican Party and a fight over the "pork." The Conservative Club For Growth has announced it will penalize any lawmaker who votes for the package because they say it includes wasteful spending. This morning Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) joins “Starting Point” to discuss his plans not to vote for the measure.
Mulvaney, who serves as a member on both the Budget Committee and Joint Economic Committee, says his difficulty with the Sandy Aid bill is “that it is not paid for.” He adds, “We’re borrowing this additional money to do this and I just think that’s wrong. I’m hoping we can figure out a way today during the amendment process to find savings elsewhere to pay for this without adding to the debt.”
Mulvaney adds he would encourage his colleague Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) to “consider the fact that in 1989 and even as late as Katrina several years ago the debt was much much smaller.” Mulvaney says in 1989 the debt was approximately around two to three trillion dollars but it is currently five or six times larger than that today. He adds, “we simply cannot continue what we’ve done in the past. That’s how we arrived where we are.”
Mulvaney says, “The days of being able to say ‘ok let’s borrow money from China to do this or let’s borrow money from China to do that have come and gone.’” He says the question is not whether or not the Sandy disaster relief bill is going to be tackled today but whether or not it means enough to lawmakers to say that we are going to pay for it “because if we don’t what we’re essentially saying is our children are going to pay for it.”
House Speaker John Boehner pledging to make a Sandy relief bill a priority in the new Congress after abruptly pulling a similar bill late Tuesday night right after the House passed the fiscal cliff deal. That move had politicians in the Northeast venting their anger including New Jersey's Outspoken Governor, Chris Christie. Boehner says lawmakers will vote Friday for a $9 billion measure leaving the balance of $51 billion due for consideration on January 15. This morning Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) joins “Starting Point” to discuss the long wait for Sandy aid bill and Boehner’s pledge.
Grimm says when it comes to voting on aid for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, “the bottom line is we just have to get this done.” He adds that he is “a New Yorker not some of the time but all of the time.”
Grimm says when the bill was abruptly pulled he was furious and he thought “everyone involved was absolutely beside themselves.” Still dealing with the damages of part of his district in Staten Island destroyed by the storm he adds “it is not acceptable even remotely to be playing games with the victims of this horrific Superstorm Sandy.” Grimm goes on to say, “We’re there now…we’re there. We’ll get it done.”
On Wednesday Grimm and other Republican leaders met with Boehner regarding the aid bill. Grimm says while the meeting went well he chose to “stay behind after the conference… to speak one-on-one with the Speaker and with the Leader and I had to shake his hand and look in his eyes and I needed the Speaker of the House to tell me personally that we were going to come through on this and we were going to have the vote on the full $60 billion.” Grimm adds he “got [Boehner’s] commitment and word as a man” and he feels comfortable with that.
Scholars Academy is one of 56 schools in New York still closed because of damage from Hurricane Sandy. Poppy Harlow surveys the school and comes to “Starting Point” to describe how people can help the school and its students like eighth-grader Ryan Panetta rebuild after the storm.
“You can still smell the destruction Sandy wrought at Scholar's Academy,” Harlow says. When Sandy hit, the water gushed into the school that is wedged between the Atlantic ocean, Jamaica Bay and a sewage treatment plant. “Surveillance cameras captured the ocean pouring into the basement and climbing the stairs of Principal Brian O’Connell's beloved school.” But he and the students are dedicted to rebuild.
“We keep saying scholar strong and Rockaway resilient,” O’Connell says. “They sound cliché, we are using them so much, but it’s just reality.”
If you want to make a donation, you can go directly to the Scholars website here, or go to CNN.com/IMPACT for ways to help those affected by Superstorm Sandy.
CNN's Poppy Harlow speaks with 13-year-old Ryan Panetta who leapt into the rising waters of Hurricane Sandy to save his family, but he couldn’t save his home or school. Now he is one of hundreds of NY kids attending a temporary school and living in a temporary apartment.
Panetta, an honor student is one of 76,000 New York students whose displacement has wreaked havoc on their school and home life, separating them from communities and familiar faces.
For more information about how you can help those affected by Sandy, check out CNN.com/IMPACT.
Airport closures due to Superstorm Sandy have had a ripple effect on travel nationwide, and New York's Laguardia airport remains shut down due to flooding.
Newark and JFK airports have reopened this morning, although their services remain limited.
CNN's Richard Quest breaks down the various air and rail travel disruptions that remain in effect this morning.
At least 80 homes in Breezy Point, Queens, a neighborhood on the tip of New York's Rockaway Penisula, were destroyed by a fire during Superstorm Sandy.
200 firefighters battled the six alarm blaze that Mayor Bloomberg described as looking like a Midwest forest fire. By daybreak, fire authorities reported that three people were injured, although all injuries were minor.
NY Conservative Party chairman Mike Long is one of the residents who lost his home in the Breezy Point fire, and he joins Starting Point this morning to explain how the community is responding to the tragedy.
"It's hard for me to even wrap my arms around it," Long says. "It's going to take quite some time but I know that this community will rise again and once again become a great place for families throughout New York."
Nearly 6.6 million people are still without electricity in 15 states and Washington D.C. this morning, with nearly 2 million of them in New York, where flooded subways mean that transportation remains at a virtual standstill.
Starting Point panelists Fmr. Gov. George Pataki, Richard Socarides, and Ben Smith weigh in on the city's response to the natural disaster on the show this morning.
"At some point it’s appropriate to figure out what went wrong and how can we make sure it doesn't happen again but first we have to get through the crisis," Pataki says. "At this point, all the effort has to be on public safety and trying to restore power, transportation and the other essential needs of the people affected.
The panel also discusses Mayor Bloomberg's use of the Spanish language when relying emergency messages to the public.
“It has a huge impact," Gov. Pataki says. "Even if you manage the pronunciation or get the grammar wrong, the fact that you’re making the effort counts enormously.”
This morning, states from North Carolina to Maine continue to deal with the damage and devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, which has caused at least 40 deaths across the United States.
Mayor Cory Booker has been out on the streets of Newark, New Jersey assisting residents and taking requests for help via his Twitter account.
On Starting Point today, Mayor Booker says that power outages are the biggest problem the city is facing, and explains that there are still hundreds of Newark residents going in and out of shelters.
Booker also comments on New Jersey Governor Christie's uncharacteristic praise of President Obama's response to the tragedy, explaining that during crises, people work together to do what's necessary regardless of their political affiliation.
"These are human beings facing a human tragedy and pulling together to do so," Booker says.