The SUV pulled into the garage, and King took the elevator up to his third-floor office. A “Never Forget” poster of the post-Sept. 11, 2001, New York skyline hung on the wall. As his aides received more calls for interviews, including from the Weather Channel, King did a remote interview with ABC’s evening network news show. The cameraman packed up his equipment, although King wasn’t done talking. He described the Republican Party as “absolutist” and “isolationist” and overly worried about what “Grover Norquist is going to say” and —
“Oh, there you go. Look at this guy,” he said, interrupting himself and pointing at the television, where a clip of him talking was playing on Fox News Channel.
Megyn Kelly, the Fox News anchor, reported that the Sandy relief bill included earmarks for Alaskan fisheries, Amtrak and Smithsonian repairs. King shook his head, saying it wasn’t true, and accused his party’s preferred network of trying to justify Boehner’s decision. “They’re peddling it,” King said. “They have to say something.”
An hour later, King walked out of his office and crossed the street to the Capitol, talking about how Al D’Amato, the retired senator and a fellow Long Island brawler, planned to come to the House to picket with a busload of angry and homeless people displaced by Sandy. He entered the building and rounded a corner toward Boehner’s office, where scores of photographers and reporters awaited. “Oh, wow,” he said. “Everybody.”
Boehner arrived late to the meeting, ashtray in one hand and cigarette smoldering in the other. He turned to King and with a smile called him an unprintable name, according to King. King said that the profanity actually broke the ice and that Boehner, taking his seat at the head of a rectangular table next to Cantor, spoke of how he understood how much pressure the delegations were under and how strongly they felt, and that they would get their $60 billion. His only request, King said, was to tone down the rhetoric.
The meeting lasted only a few minutes. When the scrum of reporters raced back over to ask King how things went, his tone and attitude were markedly different.
“What’s done is done,” he said. “I take him at his word.” Now that he and his bridge-and-tunnel allies had gotten what they wanted — a new and presumably firm promise for help — the anger subsided. When asked if the lawmakers had discussed King’s call for New York donors to stop funding Republicans, he said, with a grin: “We don’t discuss contributions in a government building.”