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Waiting on Sandy Relief Package: New York Times: "Elected officials from the New York area erupted with outrage on Wednesday after the House refused to take up a federal aid package for states that suffered damages from Hurricane Sandy, and even local Republicans blasted their Congressional leaders for their inaction. ... Last week, the Senate adopted a $60.4 billion aid package, and on Wednesday [GOP Rep. Peter] King and other local politicians said they had been promised that the House would bring it up for a vote before the current legislative session ends on Thursday."
Under Pressure, Boehner Now Eyes Friday Vote: Reuters with the update: "The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on Friday on a downpayment for federal disaster aid related to Superstorm Sandy to be followed later in the month with a vote on a larger chunk of funding, Representative Peter King said on Wednesday [afternoon]. King, a Republican from New York, which was hit hard by the gigantic storm, said House Speaker John Boehner has promised a vote on Friday on $9 billion in money for the federal flood insurance program to help victims. Another vote—on the remaining $51 billion in aid—would come on Jan. 15, King said."
What Forced the GOP's Hand: Lawmakers from New York and New Jersey were quick to voice their displeausre this morning, but no one did it louder than Peter King. "These Republicans have no problem finding New York when they’re out raising millions of dollars," the New York Republican said this morning during a Fox News interview. "They’re in New York all the time filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers. I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds. Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace."
Chris Christie Piled On: "There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner," the New Jersey governor said at an afternoon press conference before Boehner reportedly changed his mind. Given Christie's very public embrace of President Obama in the wake of the hurricane, his comments weren't exactly a surprise. At the same time, it was that state-above-party embrace (and the soaring approval rating that followed) that provided Christie with one of the biggest stages to unload on Boehner and co.
Happy New Year and welcome to The Slatest PM, where your afternoon host is back in action for the remainder of the week before he heads back out on vacation. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.
Last Night's Deal Was a Stop-Gap Measure at Best: Washington Post: "The deal to which the House gave final approval late Tuesday will head off the most severe effects of the 'fiscal cliff' by averting a dangerous dose of austerity but still leaves the economy vulnerable to both immediate and more distant threats. The agreement, which the Senate approved only hours after the government hit the limit on federal borrowing, fails to defuse the prospect of a catastrophic national default two months from now. The deal does not raise the debt ceiling .... Nor does the package do anything to address stubbornly high levels of unemployment, with 12 million Americans out of work. ... And, finally, the deal is too modest to fundamentally tame the government’s soaring debt. The nation’s long-term finances remain in peril, with federal spending projected to rise dramatically as a wave of retiring baby boomers turns to the government for help in paying for ever-more-costly health care."
The Ten Strangest Parts of the Bill: Wonkblog's Brad Plumer: 1) A $9 billion 'sop for Wall Street banks and major multinationals'; 2) A rum tax for Puerto Rico; 3) Cheaper office space for Goldman Sachs; 4) Help NASCAR build racetracks; 5) Treat coal from Indian lands as an alternative energy source; 6) Promote plug-in electric scooters; 7) Repair the railroads; 8) Subsidize Hollywood films; 9) Crack down on tax cheats ... in prison; 10) Provide incentives for commuters to take the bus or train. Full details.
The Next Fiscal Cliff Is Only Two Months Away: Moneybox: "The fiscal cliff is dead—but the era of semi-permanent fiscal policy crisis is still with us. Indeed, if anything, the resolution of the cliff has simply served to set up a quantitatively smaller but qualitatively much more terrifying cliff two months from now. That’s when the country once again reaches a crisis over the lapsing of the Treasury Department’s authority to borrow money."
Andrew Sullivan Leaving The Daily Beast: Wall Street Journal: "Andrew Sullivan, the pioneering blogger, is leaving the Daily Beast web site to strike out on his own with a metered pay model entirely supported by reader payments. Mr. Sullivan plans to charge $19.99 for an annual membership, though casual readers will be able to see a certain number of the blog’s content for free before being asked to pay. The blog won’t accept advertising, at least initially. The aim of the model, Mr. Sullivan wrote in a post on Wednesday, is to make the site entirely free of the editorial and commercial constraints brought by advertisers or having a corporate parent." Sullivan's full post here.
Hillary Clinton's Recovery: Associated Press: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been speaking with staff and reviewing paperwork from the New York hospital where she is recovering from a blood clot in her head, the State Department said Wednesday. Doctors continue to monitor Clinton's progress and her response to blood thinners intended to dissolve the clot. Aides said there was no update Wednesday on her condition, but emphasized that the secretary remained engaged with staff in Washington who are handling U.S. foreign policy in her absence."
Record Gun Sales: ABC News: "Record gun sales were recorded in December 2012 with over 2.7 million background checks being conducted through the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS), the agency said today. For 2012, more background checks were conducted than any year since 1998. In December, 2,783,765 total background checks were carried out to purchase firearms, surpassing the previous record from November 2012 when 2,006,919 checks were performed. For the year, 19,592,303 background checks carried out for firearm purchases–a 19 percent rise from 2011."
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