New York pols' loud 9/11 warBy DAVID SEIFMAN
New York Post
July 31, 2010
The House's rejection of a bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust triggered a furious confrontation between two New York congressmen, Republican Peter King and Democrat Anthony Weiner.
The searing war of words came on the House floor Thursday night as the vote neared. The results fell largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure, but it failed to win the needed two-thirds majority.
Arms flailing and his voice near a scream, Weiner took sharp aim at King, of Long Island.
"The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing," bellowed Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
"Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans, rather than doing the right thing on behalf of heroes. It's a shame, a shame."
King, a key backer of the bill, had earlier accused Dems of staging a "charade."
The rift developed over how the bill was put before the chamber.
Democratic leaders opted to consider it under a procedure that requires a two-thirds vote for approval rather than a simple majority. The move blocked potential GOP amendments.
King said Democrats were "petrified" about casting votes on controversial amendments as the November elections near. Those amendments could possibly have included one that could ban the bill from covering illegal immigrants sickened by trade center dust.
"The bottom line is the Democrats control the House," King said. "They pulled a procedural gimmick and decided to go for a two-thirds majority vote because they were afraid to vote on the controversial amendment."
King said the bill was more important than "a campaign talking point."
The jabbering continued during a raucous joint appearance by the two congressmen yesterday on Fox News Channel. With tempers still running high, the two men repeatedly interrupted one another.
Weiner asserted that despite all the "whining about the process," the House had an up-or-down vote on a program to extend more aid to those made sick by the World Trade Center dust.
"Every day on the streets of New York I hear people say, 'Why don't you guys just have up-or-down votes?' We had one last night," Weiner said, jabbing a thumb toward King. "They voted it down."
"This is phony hypocrisy," he shot back. "They could pass the bill right now if they wanted to."
Mayor Bloomberg yesterday was critical of Democratic leaders, charging they employed a maneuver requiring a two-thirds majority to give cover to legislators who "didn't want to go on the record."
"Congress is passing bills and focusing on things that really don't matter," rather than vital action like helping the Ground Zero responders, Bloomberg said.
The mayor said the Democrats should have arranged to vote for the bill under rules in which a simple majority vote would have passed the measure, even if it meant the GOP could have attached unpalatable amendments.
"The Democrats control the House, and if they don't want to control the House, turn it over to the Republicans," the mayor fumed. "But if you control the House, you've got to have the courage to stand up."