The House's rejection of bill that would have provided up to $7.4 billion in aid to people sickened by World Trade Center dust has opened a sharp rift between two New York congressmen, Republican Peter King and Democrat Anthony Weiner.
The verbal jousting came on the House floor Thursday night as the vote neared. The results fell largely along party lines, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats supporting the measure, but it failed to win the needed two-thirds majority.
Arms flailing and his voice rising, Weiner took sharp aim at King, a Long Island Republican.
"The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing," bellowed Weiner, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens. "Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of heroes. It's a shame, a shame."
King, a key backer of the bill, had moments earlier accused Democrats of staging a "charade."
The rift developed over how the bill was put before the chamber.
Democratic leaders opted to consider it under a procedure that requires a two-thirds vote for approval rather than a simple majority. The move blocked potential GOP amendments to the measure.
King said Democrats were "petrified" about casting votes on amendments, possibly including one that would ban aid from going to illegal immigrants sickened by trade center dust. King said the bill was more important than "a campaign talking point."
King's comments rankled New York Democrats, who in turn blamed Republicans for not supporting the bill and accusing King of not doing enough to win more GOP support for the measure.