- Special Features
- Blogs & Columns
- Fun & Games
After criticism from New York and New Jersey during the final night of the 112th Congress, the 113th Congress made sure to pass the first part of a relief package to help the victims of Superstorm Sandy during its first full day.
The $9.7 billion package passed with unanimous support from the Senate. The House voted 354-67 to pass the package. All Democrats supported the measure, while all nay votes came from Republicans.
According to The New York Times, the Republicans who voted against the package criticized it for not cutting funds elsewhere to pay for it, as the country continues to deal with a deepening debt crisis. These Republicans included 17 newly elected Representatives, showing that the anti-spending conservatives’ support may be bolstered in the future.
This concern might delay passage of the second relief package, which calls for an additional $51 billion to help those in areas still recovering from the storm. The Washington Post notes that the second passage goes up to vote on Jan. 15.
By passing the bill, the political pressure on House Speaker John Boehner is relaxed, at least for the moment. He was heavily criticized by New York and New Jersey members when the 112th Congress ended Tuesday night without the package getting passed, despite the fiscal cliff deal getting done. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also criticized his own party in a press conference.
“Today’s action by the House was a necessary and critical first step towards delivering aid to the people of New Jersey and New York,” Christie and his colleague, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said in a joint statement today, notes the Times. “While we are pleased with this progress, today was just a down payment and it is now time to go even further and pass the final and more complete, clean disaster aid bill.”
Still, some politicians were critical of the package not getting passed until 11 weeks after the storm. “This action by the Republican leadership is too little too late,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said.
The package is meant to help homeowners and local governments in their recovery efforts from the storm.