msnbc | January 05, 2013
>>> more than two months after superstorm sandy, the house has passed the first part of a relief package worth almost $10 million -- $10 billion, rather. lawmakers will vote on the rest of the package over the next several weeks but not everyone is satisfied with that. new york democratic congressman gregory meeks said, quote, it is disappointing, disgusting and frustrating that the house republican leadership continues to play politics in delaying a vote to fully fund disaster relief , here to talk about that the man himself, congressman meeks, welcome, so glad you're here to talk about this.
>> good to be with you.
>> your reaction of the first part of the bill being passed, flood insurance funding.
>> do you know what, we vote d for it, it was a good thing because next week it would have expired, but we should have done it long time ago. we're only asking for is the same thing that we've done for every other natural disaster that's taken place in this country.
>> katrina went much more quickly.
>> ten days.
>> we're now 71 days away . and the people of new york , new jersey, and connecticut is asking for the same kind of treatment that others of natural -- who have been victized by natural disasters have received.
>> are you suggesting, then, that things have devolved so horribly among the tenor and rancor among the members of the house and the senate and capitol hill in general, that contributed to it?
>> well, do you know what, we had an agreement so that the bill should have passed last tuesday. democrats, republicans working together, you know, i've been working very closely with michael grim and peter king .
>> and governor cuomo, been working with governor christie. we thought we had a deal. and then on tuesday after the fiscal cliff vote, for no reason that was told to ums at any rate, not even to the republican members, they pulled the bill.
>> why? why did it happen? i mean, i know you haven't been given a reason, but can you speculate? i have talked just to people here in the newsroom, why didn't john boehner come forth even something as simple as saying we were exhausted from the fight that we had, it was the wee hours of the morning, even giving that kind of explanation while some would say, look, that's not cool, they would at least understand some reason for it.
>> i think that maybe some of the reason is the 67 individuals who voted against the basic $9 billion that only dealt with flood insurance , it may be some within the republican party who are so mean-spirited that they don't want to move forward to help individuals who happen to be maybe some say because the blue states . they're still playing politics. politics should not be playing a role in the lives of americans. because, guess what, the storm sandy, it hit democrats and republicans. it did not discriminate against anybody. and this is what generally makes us come together. i've never seen the scenario before where we've not come together as a congress to help our american people . until now.
>> are there prejudices against the northeast? it has been suggested that, you know, it is a moneyed area of the country, and that maybe those in different parts of the country feel that they don't want to put the money back into this part of the country. i mean, as absurd as that may sound, do you think that's part of it? geographically.
>> look, it speaks for itself. because this is a storm we've not had anything like this on the east coast before. we've always on the east coast put more than our fair share into the national treasury. more than our fair share of money that goes into the national treasury that goes to some of these regions when there's a natural disaster , we willingly come together to say we're going to support them. this is the first time we've had a storm like this in over 100 years, and so all we're saying is give the people of new york , new jersey, and connecticut the kind of resources they need to rebuild their lives. so many people lost everything and that's why in one of my speeches i talked about and asked the speaker to come walk with me. i wanted him to come walk with me through the rockaways, so he could look at the pain that was on people's faces, to see what they lost and how they've lost just about everything and how that they need the help of their government now to get them back on my feet. so, i asked the speaker to come walk with me --
>> -- so he could see. well, i've not gotten a reply.
>> did you hear shira toeplitz and susan page , my previous guests, they are both gearing up of a fight over what remains of the sandy funding, do you feel there will be a fight?
>> i said on the house floor yesterday also because i managed the bill for the flood insurance , what we have now is a promissory note . we were told that we would have on january 15th the remaining amount of money, $51 billion. but that's a promissory note . we don't know whether we're going to get that until there's the votes to make that happen. we did know that based upon the prior agreement at the end of the 112th congress that we had the votes. many individuals that were going to vote for it are no longer in the 113th congress. as i said, i admire the work of peter king and michael grimm have on done on the other side of the aisle. they told me that they had the votes irrespective of what the speaker has.
>> now i'm concerned the speaker said he has the votes, but we saw his plan "b" before, he said he had the votes and he didn't have the votes, so we got a promissory note now and we're going to see whether or not that promissory note has -- can be cashed in or not.
>> i'm going to tell you, my producers told me to wrap it, i do have to ask this one question relative to the debt ceiling. given the tenor and the president has no compromise and john boehner said i'm not going to deal one-on-one with the president and i am going to use the dell ceiling as leverage for spending cuts, what do you think?
>> well, democracy's tough. and we're going to have the 3wbattles and the president is going to stay firm. he's indicated to all of us, you know, we've never played politics with the debt ceiling before. people talk about the debt ceiling now. ronald reagan , george bush , both bushes, raised the debt ceiling, bill clinton raised the debt ceiling, that's something we've never played with because then we're playing with the country's credit rating and that's something we should all come together on and we've never had it happen before. why now play politics on the debt ceiling. it doesn't make