U.S. Rep. Tom Reed expressed frustration Wednesday over the lack of Hurricane Sandy relief funding coming from the nation's capital.
Chautauqua County's newest congressman told reporters he was upset to see legislation designed to aid areas hit hard by the devastating storm pulled in the House of Representatives without a vote late Tuesday.
Reed said Republicans had planned to meet privately with House Speaker John Boehner regarding the bill, which is now set to be acted upon on Friday, according to Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. Congressman King also said that Boehner has promised the votes necessary to pass Sandy aid by Jan. 15.
"I'm very frustrated. We have been putting in a lot of work with our colleagues," Reed said. However, the congressman noted "pork spending" in the proposed multibillion dollar bill that would have gone to fisheries in Alaska and other projects not tied to the hurricane.
"I know there was a lot of concern by members about pork spending that was included," he said.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released a joint statement criticizing Boehner and House Republicans for not taking up the legislation.
"With all that New York and New Jersey and our millions of residents and small businesses have suffered and endured, this continued inaction and indifference by the House of Representatives is inexcusable," the governors said.
"... This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented," Cuomo and Christie continued. "The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House (Tuesday) night."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., expressed disappointment, but optimism that the House would pass the bill.
"While it would have been far better had they passed the Senate's bill today, at least this provides a path to produce the needed $60 billion for New York and New Jersey by the end of the month," said Schumer.
Reed on Wednesday also touched base on his support for the House's fiscal cliff bill, which passed overwhelming late Tuesday night. In the 257-167 vote, 172 Democrats and 85 Republicans favored the bill, which will maintain tax cuts for those making under $400,000 annually.
"I'm happy we were able to secure those tax cuts," Reed said. "I think it's a great step forward."
However, Reed said more must be done to cut overall spending and resolve concerns over the future of Medicaid and Social Security.
"Those are some of the compromises you are going to have to make as elected officials," Reed said of favoring the bill.
Starting today at noon, Reed will represent the new 23rd Congressional District as part of the 113th Congress. The new Southern Tier district includes Chautauqua County for the first time in a decade.
The congressman also will begin operating an office in Jamestown; an open house will be scheduled for the office later this month.
"The communities and economic interests of Chautauqua County are closely aligned with the rest of the Southern Tier, and we are honored to be a voice in Washington for Chautauqua County and rural and small city America," Reed told the OBSERVER.
The congressman will be holding three of his town hall meetings in Chautauqua County starting Jan. 12. No further information regarding the meeting was made available.