U.S. House of Representatives Passes Hurricane Sandy Emergency Aid Bill!

Dear Commons Community,

Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed  a long-awaited $50.7 billion emergency bill to provide help to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

The aid package passed 241 to 180, with 49 Republicans joining 192 Democrats. The Senate is expected to pass the measure, and President Obama has expressed support for it.   As the New York Times reports:

“The $50.7 billion — along with a nearly $10 billion aid package that Congress approved earlier this month — seeks to provide for the huge needs that have arisen in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states since the hurricane struck in late October.

The emergency aid measure would help homeowners whose homes have been damaged or destroyed, provide assistance to business owners who experienced losses as well as reinforce shorelines, repair subway and commuter rail systems, fix bridges and tunnels, and reimburse local governments for emergency expenditures.

Though the package does not cover the entire $82 billion in damage identified by the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, leaders from the storm-ravaged region expressed relief over the action in the Republican-controlled House, where storm aid had become ensnared in the larger debate over spending and deficits.

Representative Peter T. King, a Republican from Long Island who helped press his party’s leadership into holding the vote, hailed the package’s passage as a victory for storm victims but expressed disappointment over the House’s failure to act earlier.

“It is unfortunate that we had to fight so hard to be treated the same as every other state has been treated,” Mr. King said.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat who is part of the chamber’s leadership, said he would urge the Senate to approve the House bill even though he believed it fell short of what the Senate approved last year. “It is certainly close enough,” he said, comparing the bills.

The developments in the House settle, at least for now, an issue that had become an embarrassment for the chamber’s Republican leadership and had pitted Northeastern Republicans eager to help their constituents against fiscal conservatives bent on taming the nation’s deficits.

The vote was scheduled over a week ago by Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, after he came under intense criticism for concluding the business of the previous Congress without taking up a $60.4 billion hurricane-aid bill that the Senate had approved.

His critics included influential Republicans in and out of Congress, including Mr. King and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

In a statement, Mr. Christie joined with Govs. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut, both Democrats, to express gratitude to the Congress for providing the relief to hurricane victims.”

Victims of Hurricane Sandy can feel secure that critical funding needed to rebuild lives will be coming.  All of us can be grateful for this show of bipartisanship on the part of the Congress.





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