January 16, 2013 in Nation/World

House approves Sandy relief plan

Amended bill totals $50.5 billion in aid
David Espo Associated Press
 
Repairs

The emerging House measure includes about $16 billion to repair transit systems in New York and New Jersey and a similar amount for housing. An additional $5.4 billion would go to the Federal Emergency and Management Agency for disaster relief, and $2 billion is ticketed for restoration of highways damaged or destroyed in the storm.

WASHINGTON – More than 10 weeks after Superstorm Sandy brutalized parts of the heavily populated Northeast, the House approved $50.5 billion in emergency relief for the victims Tuesday night as Republican leaders struggled to close out an episode that exposed painful party divisions inside Congress and out.

The vote was 241-180, and officials said the Senate was likely to accept the measure early next week and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature. Democrats supported the aid in large numbers, while majority Republicans opposed it by a lopsided margin.

“We are not crying wolf here,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., one of a group of Northeastern lawmakers from both parties who sought House passage of legislation roughly in line with what the Obama administration and governors of the affected states have sought.

Democrats were more politically pointed as they brushed back Southern conservatives who sought either to reduce the measure or offset part of its cost through spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

“I just plead with my colleagues not to have a double standard,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. “Not to vote tornado relief to Alabama, to Louisiana, to Mississippi, Missouri, to – with Ike, Gustav, Katrina, Rita – but when it comes to the Northeast, with the second worst storm in the history of our country, to delay, delay, delay.”

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