House passes $9.7 billion Hurricane Sandy funding, a fraction of the $60 billion aid sought

Hurricane Sandy. SOURCE: FEMA.gov

House Republicans today approved $9.7 billion in funding for the National Flood Insurance Program just days before the program runs out of money to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.

H.R. 41 passed the House by a vote of 354 to 67.

“We’re glad that the House and Senate acted and provided another $9.7 billion to the National Flood Insurance Program. Without this program, we would have run out of money in flood insurance, leaving over 100,000 [Hurricane] Sandy victims in the lurch,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

However, the $9.7 billion approved is well short of the $60 billion disaster aid funding sought by states, particularly New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, battered by the super storm. Boehner announced that the House will vote on the remaining $50 billion disaster relief funding when the new Congress convenes on Jan. 15.

“The $9 billion is a good but small first step. The Flood Insurance Relief is a small down payment on the much larger amount of aid we need to get through Congress. The job’s hardly begun, and we must make sure that passing this bill is not the end or even the middle but only a start,” said Schumer.

Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the iconic Jersey Shore, flooded many coastal communities and the New York subway system, and caused extensive damages to tens of thousands of homes and businesses on the eastern seaboard.

The vote took place 3 days after N.J. Gov. Chris Christie delivered a stinging rebuke of the House Republican leadership – namely, Speaker John Boehner – for pulling the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief package from the House floor earlier this week.

Christie vented his frustration about the delayed House vote on Wednesday, pointing out that it only took former Congresses and Presidents just 31 days to approve a federal disaster aid package for Hurricane Andrew; 17 days for Hurricanes Gustav and Ike; and 10 days for Hurricane Katrina.

“For the victims of Sandy in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut, it’s been 66 days and the wait continues. There’s only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocence victims: The House Majority and their Speaker, John Boehner,” Christie said at a press briefing.”The House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service and they did so with callous indifference for the suffering of the people of my state.”

Christie stressed that New Jersey and New York are two of the “most generous states” to other states affected by natural disasters.

“We’ve voted for disaster relief for other states in need. We are donor states, sending much more to Washington, D.C. than we ever get back in federal spending. Despite this history of unbridled generosity, in our hour of desperate need we’ve been left waiting for help 6 times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight,” said Christie. “66 days and counting. Shame on you. Shame on Congress.”

Christie told reporters that he was given assurances by House Republicans that the Hurricane Sandy aid package was going to be voted on Jan. 1 before the lame duck Congress ended.

“I was called at 11:20 p.m. [on New Year's Day] by Leader Cantor and told that authority for the vote was pulled by the Speaker,” Christie recounted. “And our delegation asked for meeting with the Speaker at the time; they were refused. I called the Speaker 4 times last night, after 11:20 p.m. and he did not take my calls.”

Christie criticized Boehner’s move as an example of the “toxic internal politics of the House Majority.”

“Disaster relief was something that you didn’t play games with. But now in this current atmosphere, everything is the subject of one-upmanship, everything is a possibility of potential peace of bait for the political game. And it is just – it is why the American people hate Congress,” Christie said.

Christie explained that the delays are hampering his state’s efforts to help families and businesses rebuild.

“Everyday that we don’t begin to get this aid are days that we can’t help people get back to their homes, get businesses re-opened, get our economy moving in the state again. Those are the real consequences of it – inability for people to plan about what their future is going to be,” said Christie. “That’s incredibly frustrating because let me guarantee you something: It’s hard enough to do this even if everything is working. Even if they acted in 17 days or 10 days or even 31 days, it would still be difficult to do that.”

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8 Comments on “House passes $9.7 billion Hurricane Sandy funding, a fraction of the $60 billion aid sought

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  6. Pingback: Transcript: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on the $9.7 billion National Flood Insurance Program Funding for Hurricane Sandy victims | What The Folly?!

  7. Pingback: Transcript: Sen. Chuck Schumer on the $9.7 billion National Flood Insurance Program Funding for Hurricane Sandy victims | What The Folly?!

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