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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JULIETTE KAYYEM

A storm of a fight

Congress should revamp federal relief, but not before helping victims of Hurricane Sandy

It might seem that a disaster was averted by the last-minute fiscal-cliff deal. But the wrath of House Republicans has simply moved to a different disaster: last October’s Hurricane Sandy. If there is any sign that the short-term agreement to prevent a tax hike on the middle class is just a prelude to skirmishes on every front, it was evidenced that same night when the Republican-led House — to the utter amazement of just about everyone, including Republicans from Northeastern states — chose to table a Sandy funding package approved by the Senate on Dec. 28. Essentially, because of conservatives’ frustration over a tax increase for wealthy Americans, devastated Americans will not see immediate relief for Sandy’s wrath.

By itself, it’s an unimaginable form of partisan payback given the extent of the Sandy-related claims. The details of how House leadership went from “99 percent” certainty of a vote on the Sandy package, as one analyst declared on Tuesday, to abandonment are still murky. But even if the House moves quickly to make amends, as Speaker John Boehner indicated might happen later in the week, the mere delay is a bad sign for future victims of disasters.

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