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Sandy Disaster Aid Puts Boehner In A Big Political Bind

31 Oct 2012
Posted by Stan Collender

You haven't heard much...or perhaps anything...yet about a disaster relief supplemental appropriation for the state and local governments and individuals who were hit so hard by Sandy.

But you will, probably starting this afternoon when President Obama tours New Jersey arm-in-arm with Governor Chris Christie.

My guess is that the disaster relief package will jump the fiscal cliff as a priority immediately after the election and that it will be dealt with weeks before the fiscal cliff deadlines at the start of January.

There are three questions.

First, how much aid will be needed and what will it be used for? The state and local governments that were in Sandy's path have huge infrastructure problems and the individuals who have been affected will look to Washington for assistance in rebuilding.

Second, congressional Republicans demand reductions in other spending to offset the impact of the new Sandy-related aid? No matter what the disaster, that's been the pattern the past two years and it is hard to see it changing for a storm that ravaged primarily blue states.

Third, how will House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) deal with this situation? If  the tea party wing of the GOP opposes the aid without offsets, Boehner will be forced to chose between supporting a package that will be extremely important to a large number of states -- including his own -- or opposing the package without spending cuts to boost his chances of being reelected speaker. As I've said before, Boehner very likely needs the support of the tea party wing of the GOP to get reelected speaker and alienating it with support for more spending before the House Republican caucus holds its leadership elections for next year makes this a very difficult political problem for him.



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