NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York Congressman Peter King has singled out one of Oklahoma’s senators, labeling him a hypocrite for voting against federal aid for victims of superstorm Sandy now that the tables are turned and Oklahoma is in need of federal assistance.
“We know the type of suffering that people go through during these types of crises and we’re not going to hold – I’m certainly not going to hold the good people of Oklahoma hostage because they may have some hypocrites in their delegation,” King told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott on Wednesday.
King focused his comments on hypocrisy at Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), though Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) also voted against the $60 billion Sandy aid package earlier this year.
Early estimates of the damage caused by that massive twister in Moore, Okla. put the price tag at more than $2 billion. At least part of that will likely be covered by federal dollars.
“We had to wait over 100 days before we even got the aid approved to New York and New Jersey. Now, we find the senator from Oklahoma who voted against aid to New York and New Jersey saying that aid should be sent to Oklahoma because there’s a difference between tornado assistance and hurricane assistance,” King told Scott. “This is absolute hypocrisy.”
The Republican lawmaker said the residents in the Tri-State Area impacted by Sandy were entitled to federal assistance, the same way Oklahomans dealing with the devastation from the tornado are now.
“I will fully support sending taxpayer federal money to Oklahoma. Oklahoma has been devastated, those people need it,” said King. “But having said that, the senator from that state who voted against aid to New York, he should admit that what he did was wrong.”
Inhofe has said he wanted to reduce the assistance earmarked for Sandy relief because he felt it was being exploited for other uses.
“For him to say that Sandy aid was exploited is the biggest, most phony story that’s come along,” said King. “Nobody exploited it, that was money that was given to people who lost their homes.”
The Congressman added the federal aid for Sandy was “absolutely necessary,” much like it is for Oklahoma, he said.
King blasted members of his own party after a vote on federal Sandy aid was pushed back.
Amid the criticism, King voiced praise for Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who represents the area where the tornado hit, for backing the federal Sandy aid package earlier this year.
King said while there are some hard feelings toward those lawmakers who voted against Sandy aid, he does not think Tri-State lawmakers will use this as an opportunity for retribution.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, speaking Wednesday in Belmar, voiced a similar sentiment, saying now is “not a time for political retribution” against the people of Oklahoma victimized by a powerful tornado.
The Republican governor on Wednesday urged lawmakers in Washington to support “swift and immediate” aid to tornado victims, even though Oklahoma’s two GOP senators voted against bills sending $60 billion in federal aid to victims of Sandy.
Sens. Coburn and Inhofe were among 36 senators to vote no on the aid package.
Christie was blasted by some in his own party for his high praise of President Barack Obama’s handling of the disaster relief effort.
Christie added two wrongs don’t make a right.
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