Bad blood lingers in GOP as Congress ponders Harvey relief

NEW YORK (AP) — Republicans from New York and New Jersey are pledging unconditional support for those devastated by Hurricane Harvey. But their resentment lingers.

As historic floods wreaked havoc across the Gulf Coast, Northeastern Republicans recalled with painful detail the days after Superstorm Sandy ravaged their region in 2012. At the time, Texas’ Republican lawmakers, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, overwhelmingly opposed a disaster relief package they argued was packed with wasteful spending.

The debate delayed the passage of the Sandy relief package by several weeks. And five years later, another powerful natural disaster has exposed lingering resentment that underscores regional divisions in a deeply divided Republican Party grappling with crisis.

“It was cruel, it was vicious, and something that I’ll never forget,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He said Texas Republicans held up the 2012 bill as part of “a political ploy against the Northeast.”

“Having said that,” King added, “I don’t want the people of Texas to suffer.”

King’s comments were representative of several New York and New Jersey Republicans interviewed by the AP who said they were still angry, but would not employ the tactics of their Texas colleagues as Congress awaits an expected Trump administration request for billions of dollars of assistance. It may take weeks or months to survey the damage, but early estimates suggest Harvey could be one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history.

“We’re not going to hold it against those poor Texans who need our help what their representatives tried to do to us back five years ago,” said Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y. “This is an American crisis and we come to the aid of our fellow Americans.”

It’s still unclear how the conservative Texas delegation will approach disaster funding when it affects their region. Natural disasters back home typically transform Congress’ fiscal conservatives railing about the deficit into fans of federal spending.

Several Texas Republicans did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday. Cruz’s office said it was too soon to say whether he could pledge unconditional support to a massive disaster assistance package. In recent days, he has defended his opposition to a $51 billion Sandy relief bill he said was filled with “pork.”

The current disaster highlights stark differences between two wings of the Republican Party: more moderate Northeastern Republicans, a group from which President…

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