House approves $50 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief package

Hurricane Sandy damages in New York. SOURCE: FEMA.gov

After a two-week delay, the House of Representatives finally approved the remaining $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package. 

H.R. 152 “Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013” passed the House by a vote of 241 to 180. The vote took place 79 days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall and inflicted extensive destruction up and down the Eastern seaboard.

“We are grateful to those members of Congress who today pulled together in a unified, bipartisan coalition to assist millions of their fellow Americans in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut at their greatest time of need,” according to a joint statement released by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. “The tradition of Congress being there and providing support for Americans during times of crisis, no matter where they live across this great country, lives on in today’s vote in the House of Representatives. We anticipate smooth passage when this package moves back to the Senate for final approval and for this long-awaited relief to finally make its way to our residents.”

Read more: List of 179 House Republicans who voted against the $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package

The Senate had passed a $60 billion relief package back in December. However, House Speaker John Boehner inexplicably blocked a vote on the Senate bill at the last minute on New Year’s day, which prompted a public rebuke from Christie (who’s a popular figure in the Republican Party).

Read more: FEMA and the federal government’s role in responding to Hurricane Sandy

Under pressure, House Republicans authorized $9.7 billion in emergency funds for the National Flood Insurance Program a few days later, and Boehner postponed the vote on the remaining $50 billion package until the new Congress convened this week.

Key provisions of the Hurricane Sandy relief package: 

  • Nearly $5.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund
  • $3.85 billion for the Community Redevelopment Fund administered by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for “disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization in the most impacted and distressed areas” inflicted by Hurricane Sandy
  • $5.4 billion to repair and rebuild damaged public transits (such as trains and buses)
  • $1.35 billion for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to perform repairs and figure out ways to reduce future storm and flood-related damages
  • $111 million for the Small Business Administration to provide loans to help small businesses recovery from Hurricane Sandy
  • $32 million for railway repairs
  • $14.6 million to repair airport facilities and replace damaged equipments
  • $144 million for the Coast Guard to repair and improve facilities damaged by Hurricane Sandy
  • $100 million for public health response and recovery efforts oversee by the Department of Health and Human Services
  • $234 million for the National Park Service
  • $49.9 billion for Fish & Wildlife
  • $24 million for the National Guard’s recovery efforts
  • $228 million for veterans’ medical expenses and construction repairs of damaged VA facilities
  • $6 million for emergency food assistance program administered by the Department of Agriculture

 

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