Rep. King: Boehner will keep gavel, made ‘right decision’ on Sandy aid

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New York Rep. Pete King (R) on Thursday said Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) would retain the Speaker’s gavel in the 113th Congress and praised the GOP leader for scheduling votes on relief aid for Hurricane Sandy.

“John will be reelected Speaker. John is a voice of reason in our conference, despite some of the things I said yesterday,” said King on NBC’s “Today."

King and fellow lawmakers from New York and New Jersey had blasted Boehner on Wednesday for canceling votes on Sandy disaster aid.

King had suggested that he might not support Boehner for Speaker and called on New Yorkers to withhold money from congressional Republicans until a vote was scheduled. 

Boehner on Wednesday reversed course, though after meeting with lawmakers from the affected states, and the House is slated to hold two votes on Sandy later this month. Members are expected to vote to provide $9 billion in flood insurance on Friday, with another vote on Jan. 15 to authorize $51 billion in supplemental recovery aid. 

King on Thursday said that the disagreement was in the past and that he and Boehner had patched up their differences. But he also defended his tough criticisms from the day before, saying that he felt his anger was justified.

“This money is absolutely needed; many districts, including my own, are devastated — my own neighborhood, my own community,” said King, who said the damage left by Sandy was “in some ways comparable to Katrina.”

“I stand by what I said at the time,” King added. “I thought it was time for shock therapy.”

King praised Boehner for quickly moving to schedule votes after speaking with concerned lawmakers from the Northeast. 

“What’s done is done; the fact is, when the money was on the line yesterday and a decision had to be made, John Boehner made the right decision; John Boehner agreed to put it all on the calendar. The vote will be held. I wish it had been done the other night, I wish it had been done the other morning; the fact is it is going to be done by Jan. 15,” said King. 

“If we carry grudges the rest of our lives we’ll never get things done,” he added.

Asked if there had been any tension when he met with Boehner, King said the Speaker made “a joking obscene reference with a smile and then he said, ‘I love ya.’ And then we went into the meeting.

“It was actually very cordial, businesslike and at the end of the meeting John and I shook hands and he actually walked with me, opened the door and he said, ‘You know we’ll be friends.’ I do consider John Boehner a friend, which is what really hurt the other day, but I felt I had to do what I did … John said he understood that, he understood the pressure, he understood the suffering,” King continued.

“The fact that he came around so quickly and is willing to work with us and get it on the calendar, I give him credit for.”