By Justin Sink
President Obama requested an immediate vote on the Senate's Hurricane Sandy relief bill in the House of Representatives, hours after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled that he would postpone a vote until the new Congress is sworn in.
Obama accused the House of having "refused to act, even as there are families and communities who still need our help to rebuild in the months and years ahead, and who also still need immediate support with the bulk of winter still in front of us."
"Our citizens are still trying to put their lives back together," Obama continued. "Our states are still trying to rebuild vital infrastructure."
The president issued the statement from Hawaii, where he landed early Wednesday morning. Obama left Washington late Tuesday night after making a short statement on the House "fiscal cliff" vote.
Some Republicans have objected to the $60 billion Sandy relief bill passed by the Senate, arguing that the package became bloated with projects that had little to do with recovery from the storm.
But other GOP members from the Northeast, including Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), have expressed outrage that the House leadership punted on the bill.
"These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they're out raising millions of dollars," King told Fox News.
"They're in New York all the time filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers. I'm saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds, because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace."
King also suggested in an interview with CNN that he might not vote for Boehner to retain his gavel in the Speaker elections later this week.
"Every vote that I cast from now on, I'm going wait until the last minute to decide how I should vote, not because of me, but how it's going to effect my region," King said. "My obligation is to my constituents, not to any individual, not to any party. It's to my country and to my constituents."
Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) also urged House Republicans to reconsider the Sandy relief legislation during a floor speech Wednesday.
"Waiting to act until later this month, when members were here and ready to vote last night, is not the right choice," Hoyer said. "No member of this House who traveled to the Northeast, [and saw] the damage [wants to] tell anyone in those areas to wait. Wait for us to act. Wait for us to help. Wait for us to come to your aid. We cannot and we should not wait. We must not walk away."
Republican aides insisted Wednesday that the House would address Sandy relief early in the coming Congress.
"The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month," Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.
—Erik Wasson contributed.