A day after relentlessly slamming John Boehner as “dismissive, cavalier and indifferent” for skipping a vote on Hurricane Sandy aid, New York Rep. Peter King took a different tack Thursday.
Live on TODAY, he called the House Speaker a “voice of reason” for later scheduling votes on two separate relief bills.
“I stand by what I said at the time. I thought it was time for shock therapy, which is why I said it,” the Republican told Matt Lauer about the barrage of comments he made Wednesday. “If we do not get this aid, this would be disastrous for the people of New York. This wasn’t some special gimmick we were looking for. This is life and death. I have people in my district living in the back of cars, living in dilapidated homes.”
At issue is $60 billion in relief for victims of the superstorm that devastated New York, New Jersey and large parts of the Northeast last fall. Boehner canceled an expected vote on the bill Tuesday night, infuriating lawmakers from storm-stricken areas, including many in his own Republican party already fractured over recent tax and spending issues.
King accused Boehner and other House Republicans of holding a regional bias against the Northeast. He also encouraged New York and New Jersey residents to boycott political campaign contributions, saying “anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans after this should have their head examined.”
The following morning, King eased off his statements.
“What’s done is done. The fact is, when the money was on the line yesterday, when the decision had to be made, John Boehner made the right decision. John Boehner agreed to put it all on the calendar,” he said.
“If we’re going to carry grudges for the rest of our lives, we’ll never get anything done.”
Boehner scheduled an initial vote on victim relief for Friday and another for Jan. 15 after a private meeting with King and other lawmakers from states affected by the October storm.
King said he was happy with the results with the proposed bills, calling them “well drawn.” He described his meeting with Boehner as cordial and businesslike. He also dismissed suggestions that the House Speaker reined him in for lashing out.
“No, not at all. He did make a joking, obscene reference, with a smile, and then he said, ‘I love you,’ and then we went into the meeting,” he said.
“I do consider John Boehner a friend, which is what really hurt the other day, but I felt I had to do with what I did for the voters of my district. John said he understood that. He understood the pressure. He understood the suffering.”
King expressed confidence that Boehner will be re-elected as House Speaker later Thursday.
“John is really a voice of reason in our conference despite some of the things I said yesterday,” he said.