Within 10 days of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed and the president signed $60 billion in Gulf Coast aid. For East Coast states right now, it's day 31.

Pity New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Sure, he seems to have everything going for him these days — approval ratings in the mid-60s, the state’s books are temporarily balanced, got most of his agenda (even legalizing gay marriage) through the Legislature this spring, rave reviews for his handling of preparations and aftermath regarding a pair of recent tropical storms.

But he now finds himself having to rely on the federal government for assistance. This is where the pity comes in.

New York and several other states have appealed to Washington for emergency assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The two soaking weather systems packed plenty of punch and did plenty of damage.

FEMA has responded ably and admirably. But in a year rife with natural disasters from tornadoes to wildfires to just about everything in between, the agency is all but tapped.

Enter the federal government (and when you read that phrase, picture not so much Superman emerging with steely gaze from a phone booth as all three stooges trying go get through a doorway at the same time).

In these days of any-excuse-to-cut-programs-we-don’t-like-is-a-good-one, the Republican-led House in a largely party-line vote passed a bill providing $3.7 billion in disaster aid, but tied to it $1.6 billion in cuts to clean-energy programs as part of a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government running past Friday. (Although, frankly, the more we watch lawmakers govern, the less we think keeping the government running is such a hot idea.)

Democrats, in response, finally smashed open the box reading, “In case of emergency, break glass” — the one with the spine inside.

“We’re fed up with it,” said Dick Derbin of Illinois, the Senate’s Democratic Whip. “This brinksmanship ... we're sick of it.”

So the Democratic-led Senate rejected the disaster aid, and there sits Cuomo. And West Virginia Gov. Bev. Purdue. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. And Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett. All of whom are awaiting much-needed post-storm assistance and all of whom instead get to watch the latest installment of Gridlock Theater.

The four issued a joint statement to Congress on Friday.

“Federal assistance for the victims of storms and floods should be beyond politics,” they wrote, appealing gravely but futilely to reason in addressing an institution that long ago abandoned it.

They pointed out that within 10 days of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed and the president signed $60 billion in Gulf Coast aid. Here they were, waiting on day 28.

And you can’t even paint the statement as political — Christie and Corbett are Republicans; Cuomo and Purdue, Democrats.

But you sure can paint Congress as political. As usual.

While thousands of New Yorkers, and New Jerseyites, and Pennsylvanians, and West Virginians work to repair, replace and re-invest in their damaged, homes, neighborhoods and lives, familiar faces make familiar arguments in Washington. With familiar results.

So, pity New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In fact, pity all of us.

Contact Kevin Frisch at (585) 394-0770, ext. 257, or at kfrisch@messengerpostmedia.com.