Congress approved a $50.7 billion emergency relief bill Tuesday night to assist areas across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut impacted by Hurricane Sandy, more than two months after the “superstorm” led to more than 100 deaths and billions of dollars in property damages.
The measure passed by a vote of 241-180 — with 192 Democrats and 49 Republicans in support; 179 Republicans and one Democrat opposed. Southern conservatives failed to offset part of the bill’s costs with across-the-board federal budget cuts, according to Fox News. Officials said the Senate will likely approve the measure early next week and send it to President Obama to sign.
Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said:
"There are times when a disaster simply goes beyond our ability to budget. Hurricane Sandy is one of those times.” After failing to vote on a $60.4 billion Sandy aid bill, the House approved a "scaled back" version of the bill, to the tune of $9.7 billion, which allows Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to pay out insurance claims to those who held federal flood insurance.
Speaker John Boehner was roundly criticized on both sides of the political spectrum for cancelling a vote on the bill, but others opposed for including billions of dollars of pork barrel spending that included $17 billion for Community Development Block Grants and $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska.
The House measure passed Tuesday included $16 billion to repair New York and New Jersey transit systems and a similar amount for housing and other needs in the areas affected by the October storm.