Rep. Michael Grimm’s first votes as a freshman Congressman made him big points with the House’s new GOP leadership, but will make his constituents’ lives a lot worse, critics charged on Wednesday.
Grimm, a former FBI agent and small businessman, sported his Marine Corps pin on his lapel and shoes buffed to a shine that could probably be seen from space as he took the official oath of office from then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi — then promptly joined his Republican colleagues in voting in Rep. John Boehner (R–Ohio) to be the new speaker.
Then, the GOP got to work, passing a reform package that Boehner claimed would bring more transparency to Congress’s voting process, but also will allow Congress to dip into the federal Highway Trust Fund for non-transportation uses.
Before the rule change, a portion of local gasoline taxes were put in a lockbox to supports roadway and transit improvements throughout New York.
That money is now up for grabs — and fiery Rep. Anthony Weiner (D–Sheepshead Bay) slammed Grimm for joining his non-New York Republican colleagues in a vote that would “significantly damage” highway and subway improvements as the trust fund decreases over time.
“The first vote of the new Congress forced my Republican friends to decide — do they work for their New York constituents or their party?” Weiner said.
Grimm joined 239 Republicans in backing the rule change, which was opposed by 191 Democrats. Asked to respond to Weiner’s charge, Grimm declined. In fact, he didn’t return our calls.
The House adjourned at 5:50 pm. Congress resumes today with a reading of the U.S. Constitution.
Next up for Grimm and his colleagues? A promised vote to repeal President Obama’s Health Care reform act, which passed last year despite near unanimous Republican opposition. Grimm said the bill was a “jobs killer.”
The man whom Grimm defeated for the Staten Island–Brooklyn seat, Mike McMahon, voted against the bill last year, but it did not help him keep his head above the Republican tidal wave at the polls in November, when Grimm beat him with 51-1/2 percent of the vote.
So there he was, on Wednesday.
“It’s game day,” Grimm told reporters. “I’m sick of standing on the sidelines.”
The Operation Desert Storm veteran began the nationally and personally pivotal day with a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee reception for friends, family and a handful of constituents.
When the clock struck noon, Grimm and his mentor, former Staten Island Rep. Guy Molinari were off to the House of Representatives, where the freshman legislator began undoing what he has so often called the “Pelosi liberal agenda.”
That said, Pelosi (D–California) actual swore in Grimm officially, with Molinari, who has lifetime access to the House floor, by Grimm’s side the entire time. Boehner redid the oath later for the cameras, with Grimm swearing on a Bible belonging to his grandmother.
“This is a big day. It’s exciting,” Grimm told the Staten Island Advance. “The honor of being here is starting to set in. I feel like I’m living the American Dream.”
Grimm will still be living the dream on Sunday, when he’s sworn in again — this time in Dyker Heights.
Grimm swearing in ceremony at the Knights of Columbus [1305 86th Street between 13th and 14th avenues in Dyker Heights, (718) 259-8840], Jan. 9 at 11 am.