US Republicans start new Congress bruised and divided

Earlier in the fiscal cliff fight, Boehner suffered a humiliating defeat when his "Plan B" solution - which would have limited the tax hikes to income of $1 million a year or more, got so little support he had to cancel the vote.

No sooner had the fiscal cliff battle ended than Boehner found himself in trouble with other Republicans over aid for victims of Sandy, the second costliest storm in U.S. History, which smashed New York and New Jersey coastal communities in late October.

Legislation providing disaster relief to New York, New Jersey and other East Coast states was delayed. A House Republican aide said that given Republicans' frustration with the fiscal cliff bill and its lack of significant spending cuts, "it was not a good time to immediately vote on $60 billion in new spending."

"I don't enjoy saying this. I consider myself a personal friend of John Boehner's," said Republican Representative Peter King of New York. "It pains me to say this, but the fact is that the dismissive attitude that was shown ... toward New York, New Jersey and Connecticut typifies, I believe, a strain in the Republican Party."

Earlier, King had condemned House inaction on Sandy as a "knife in the back."

Republican Representative Michael Grimm, also of New York, said of Boehner's refusal to bring the disaster bill to a vote: "There was a betrayal. There was an arrogant judgment that is going to cost I think the trust of the American people."

Ironically, Grimm first won his seat in Congress in 2010 with the help of conservative Tea Party activists who sometimes show displeasure with disaster aid spending.

By midday on Wednesday, Boehner had changed course, promising a House vote by week's end on a $9 billion down payment in storm assistance, with a second bill providing $51 billion to be voted on Jan. 15.

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