Republicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback'

Senate Republicans say Democrats are holding up a disaster relief package over funding for Puerto Rico to exact revenge on GOP senators who voted against aid for Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US MORE’s home state of New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Georgia Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonGeorgia senator hospitalized after fall Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown VA chief pressed on efforts to prevent veteran suicides MORE (R) told reporters on Tuesday that the lead Democratic negotiator, Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Democrats grill USDA official on relocation plans that gut research staff Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (Vt.), reminded him of his vote against disaster relief for New York and New Jersey more than six years ago in a recent conversation that grew heated.

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“The senator from Vermont called me last Friday and said, ‘I want to show you something,’ so he sent over this two-page spread on that vote. Of the 37 'no' votes, I was one of them,” Isakson said when asked whether Democrats are stalling disaster relief for Georgia and other Republican states to exact revenge.

Republican senators are pointing to that conversation as evidence that the impasse over a pending disaster relief package for Midwestern and Southern states, as well as Puerto Rico, is part of a political vendetta by Democrats.

Isakson was one of 36 Republican senators who in early 2013 voted against a $51 billion package to provide relief to New York, New Jersey and other states hit by Sandy in the fall of 2012.

Georgia’s other senator at the time, Sen. Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissRepublicans say Democrats holding up disaster relief as 'Sandy payback' Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances The Hill's Morning Report - Trump budget reignites border security fight MORE (R), and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE (R), whose home state of Florida also stands to benefit from the pending disaster relief bill, also voted against the Sandy package.

“It’s Sandy payback,” said a senior GOP senator on Tuesday, echoing similar accusations by other Senate GOP sources.

A spokesman for Leahy declined to comment on what he called “insinuation and guesswork.”

The aide noted that Republicans objected to an amendment proposed by Schumer and Leahy that would have funded all of Georgia’s disaster aid request.

Republicans also rejected on April 1 an amendment sponsored by Leahy that would have provided aid for natural disasters that have occurred this year.

Schumer said he remembers GOP colleagues who voted against disaster relief for New York, but stressed that all areas of the country should be treated the same, including Puerto Rico.

“We’ve lived with that. Some of our Republican friends [are] desperate for disaster aid when it’s their states and don’t help other states. Democrats have not done that. We believe we all ought to pull together and help American citizens, wherever they are,” he said.

A Senate Democratic leadership aide denied that Democrats are holding up disaster relief because of a beef over Sandy, which wreaked billions of dollars in damage in Northeastern coastal communities.

The aide said that Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Schumer warns Mulvaney against drawing hard lines on budget deal MORE (R-Ala.) has taken a staunch stand against appropriating more disaster relief for Puerto Rico because President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE railed against sending more federal aid to the territory during a lunch meeting with Republicans two weeks ago.

Schumer on Monday blamed Trump for turning Republicans against the disaster relief package by turning aid for Puerto Rico into a political football.

“President Trump went to a Tuesday lunch, banged his fist on the table — figuratively, I suppose — and said, 'I don’t think any aid should go to Puerto Rico,'” Schumer said on the Senate floor Monday.

“Did our Republican friends, especially those from states with disasters and who needed the aid, say, ‘No, no, we’re not going to do that, we’re not going to let you divide us’? No they went along with it hurting their states,” he said.

Updated at 3:42 p.m.