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'Betrayal': Congress punts on Sandy recovery funding, infuriating local lawmakers

Updated 10:40 a.m. -- Just as the fiscal-cliff negotiations are drawing to a close, a fresh controversy is brewing in the House of Representatives after Republican leadership decided they will not vote during the 112th Congress on a bill to provide supplemental aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Both Republicans and Democrats lashed out at Republican leadership for what one Republican called a "personal betrayal," after it was decided that the bill would not be considered until the 113th Congress, which convenes at noon Thursday.

"For the Speaker to just walk out is inexcusable," Rep. Peter King (R-NY-Long Island) told reporters. "It's wrong, and I'm saying that as a member of the Republican Party."

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a short statement: "The Speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month." 

That assurance was not enough for the members of districts affected by Sandy.

"I feel it is a personal betrayal," Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-Staten Island) said. "But I think more importantly, when you parse out all the politics, the people of this country that have been devastated are looking at this as a betrayal by the Congress and by the nation, and that is just untenable and unforgivable."

A bipartisan group of eight lawmakers gathered after protesting the move on the House floor after the House vote late Tuesday night to pass a bill to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff." That bill passed 257-167. 

The House had originally planned to consider a two-step bill that would start with $27 billion in supplemental aid, but also include an amendment worth an additional $33 billion. The bill had been split to allow conservative Republicans to vote for a base level of additional aid, but not the entire package, which many Republicans said did not entirely go to those affected by Sandy.

The Senate passed a bill on Dec. 28 by a vote of 61-33 that would provide $60.2 billion in additional aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. During that vote 12 Republicans voted for the measure, but only after a replacement amendment that would have stripped $35 billion from the bill failed to pass.

"It passed the Senate in a bipartisan way," Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) said. "And again, to me, this is a real betrayal, a betrayal of the leadership of the Republican Party."

According to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), he had been speaking with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on a regular basis about when the bill would be coming to the floor for a vote. 

Cantor, whose office schedules what bills come to the floor and when, told Hoyer that he was "99.9 percent confident" that the bill would be considered after the fiscal-cliff legislation was considered.

"I urge the Speaker to reconsider and bring this bill to the floor," Hoyer said. "Do not walk away from these millions of people; do not walk away from these states that have been damaged."

An aide for Cantor said that the majority leader "is committed to ensuring the urgent needs of New York and New Jersey residents are met, and he has been working tirelessly toward that goal."

But even after these conversations between Cantor and other members of the House, it's unclear why Republican leadership decided not to consider the bill before the 112th Congress came to a close. 

FEMA told lawmakers in December they have enough emergency funds to take them through the spring, but the members protesting the change Tuesday night said the supplemental bill includes key funds for programs that go past the emergency phase of the Superstorm Sandy response.

An emotional King went so far Wednesday to urge residents of New York and New Jersey to halt donations to his own party in the House as a result of the chamber's inaction. 

"I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds," he said on Fox News. "Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”

The House is in session Wednesday, beginning at 10:00 am ET, but according to aides, no legislation is scheduled to be considered.  The 112th Congress must adjourn by 11:59 am ET Thursday, so the 113th Congress can gavel in at noon on that day.

Any legislation that passed either the House or Senate has to be re-passed once the new Congress is sworn in.

NBC's Carrie Dann contributed to this report.