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House Approves $50.7 Billion Sandy Relief Bill

Aid was voted on in two packages, both of them passing the U.S. House of Representatives.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve a Hurricane Sandy relief package totaling $50.7 billion Tuesday night, the culmination of a contentious day that included charges of overspending from House Republicans and demands from legislators in Sandy-affected areas for their Congressional peers to do the right thing.

The aid was approved in two measures, the first in the form of a $17 billion package designed to provide immediate aid primarily to victims of Sandy in New York and New Jersey, and the second, overarching package, adding an additional $33.7 billion in aid and bringing the total to more than $50 billion.

The purpose of splitting the aid package, presumably, was to give House Republicans the chance to vote for immediate aid while rejecting a larger package some have contested contains irresponsible spending and would throw the country into deeper debt. The $50.7 billion joins the more than $9 billion approved by Congress to fund the national flood insurance program, a necessary step in paying Sandy victims insured against flooding.

Though the final vote was closer than anticipated, the entire Sandy aid package was passed 241-180, with 179 of the no votes coming from members of the GOP. HR 152 will now move on to the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate where it’s expected to be approved next week. 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy issued a joint statement soon after the passage of the aid bill, thanking Congress for setting aside politics to approve funding critical to recovery.

“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,” the statement read. “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.”

Though some Republicans did cross the aisle to approve Sandy aid, the vote on the $33.7 billion portion of the package was won by only 36 votes. House Republicans attempted to chip away at the bill by introducing amendments throughout the proceedings aimed at cutting entitlements and perceived pork that they believe was surreptitiously added to a bill that should have been directed only to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Among the objections of the GOP were funding for the National Weather Service’s Ground Readiness Program, which is used to better predict storms like Sandy, NOAA grant funding, used to aid the study of climate change, among other environmental issues, and $1 million in funding for Sandy victims in need of legal advice and services.

Several local leaders spoke in support of the aid package throughout the day Tuesday and chastised objecting Republicans, specifically those Representatives who come from states that have needed federal disaster assistance in the past, for being hypocritical.

One of the most emphatic speakers Tuesday was Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2, who challenged his fellow Republicans for failing to provide proper support for the country’s citizens. In New Jersey, there are senior citizens who have been displaced from their homes with no idea if they’ll ever return. Young families have had to deal with a life-altering disaster and small businesses, the backbone of our country, he said, don’t know how to get back up and running.

“We were there for you,” he said to opposing Republicans from states that have gladly accepted disaster aid. “We were there Florida when you had your hurricane, and God bless you if you think you’re not going to have another hurricane.”

Some criticisms from New Jersey Representatives dealt with the delay in passage of Sandy aid. While other regions received aid just days after disaster, like those impacted by Hurricane Katrina, residents of the Northeastern part of the United States have had to wait months.

Rep. Rob Andrews said it was a folly to delay aid, especially to a region of the country that’s vital to the U.S. economy. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are donor states, he said, echoing a familiar refrain from other local politicians and Christie. Together, the three states pay almost 16 percent of the taxes collected in the entire country.

“This is not an act of excess or an act of charity,” he said, adding: “All Americans will suffer if this economic engine is not rebuilt.”

Rep. Chris Smith, R-4, said the funding would provide a crucial backstop for residents and businesses trying to recover from Sandy. He also praised the effort undertaken by residents, first responders and officials during and following Sandy, before the call for aid was issued.

“First responders courageously rescued people trapped in homes and cars often with minimal regard for their own personal welfare, safety and well-being.   Everyone rallied," he said in a statement. "Around the clock. The Governor, Chris Christie, emergency management personnel, the National Guard, police and fire, elected officials. Monmouth County OEM Director Sheriff Shaun Golden was absolutely tenacious and effective. And our local mayors, they were like NFL quarterbacks—running the plays, making calls—day by day, hour by hour.”

While the aid package took an unprecedented delay in getting Congressional approval and exposed the ugliness of partisan politics in the process, the passage of HR 152 will be used to benefit those most in need. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6, said the approval of the aid package couldn’t have come sooner.

“House passage of this package means we are one step closer to families returning home and businesses rebuilding so they can once again contribute to our economy,” he said in a statement. “It also means our communities will receive flood protection so a similar storm won’t produce similar destruction. I look forward to swift action in the Senate so we may move towards building a stronger New Jersey.”

Ralph Pinto January 16, 2013 at 06:25 PM
I guess you missed the Bush Era The one where the cost of the wars were not counted on the debt Didja forget Clinton left Bushie a surplus of course not fox news toldya lol
Tonysoprano_62 January 16, 2013 at 06:30 PM
With all the houes that have to be raised they better keep enough money on hand.
$16.5 trillion in debt January 16, 2013 at 06:50 PM
Ah the classic left wing nutsack comments. Thanks for being a lowinformed voter. 1. Clinton left a budget surplus in his last year and not a deficit (not same as debt) 2. Debt under Clinton INCREASED from $4T to $5.8T in 8 years AFTER the surpluses factored in 3. How does your comments refute that Obama is a liar! In his own words, "Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally," 4. Obama has added $6 Trillion of debt. He has "weakened us domestically & internationally" Stay uninformed my friends.......
Mitch Cumstein January 16, 2013 at 06:56 PM
22 trillion in total debt by 2016 we have to have goals.
proud January 16, 2013 at 07:05 PM
@Ralph Pinto, he was referring to the Bush era.
Joe Taxpayer January 16, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Obama lies so much he doesn't know how to keep them straight anymore 2005 - opposed the debt and debt ceiling. Blames Bush 2006 - opposed the debt and debt ceiling. Blames Bush 2008 - attacks Bush for using the Bank of China Credit Card. Against debt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kuTG19Cu_Q 2013 - Not my fault. Presidents don't spend (Sorry W for the attacks!) Congress orders me to spend. SHHHHH don't remind anyone that Joe and I were in Congress too. Or that we haven't passed a budget in 4 years which is illegal. Will the real BO please come forth and tell us are you for or against the debt and are Presidents responsible if not.
firedup49 January 16, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Concerned Citizen.. You are on to something...
firedup49 January 16, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Sue Obama was out here and said cut the red tape not to worry FEMA will help also. Well December comes and still no FEMA...
firedup49 January 16, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Joe Taxpayer "Will the real BO please come forth and tell us are you for or against the debt and are Presidents responsible if not." Don't hold your breath, the man uses props also to stir up emotions. Today having children as props for his 19 executive orders is despicable
Mike January 16, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Houses have to be raised, insurance goes thru the roof, money becomes "lost" or "misappropiated", FEMA couldn't care less. Residents of NJ will find it easier to walk away from their homes, than to pay these costs. FEMA will then move in & take the homes over, turn around and make them "affordable" housing. Affordable is a code word for the hood. So after NJ helps elect Obama, the citizens have to leave & hoodrats move in. Posters here will say it will never happen...let's wait and see. The federal government is like all govts...it's all about money & entitlements. Watch & see.
agent itchy January 16, 2013 at 08:29 PM
affordable is NOT code for hood! a family of four needs to earn $64,000 to qualify for affordable housing in BurlCo. your comment is so filled with hate and thoughtlessness that i really pity you. my daughter works 40 hours per week and pays taxes and doesn't qualify because she doesn't make enough to qualify. try educating yourself to facts before spouting-off mean and hurtful rhetoric.
Barb Rivera January 16, 2013 at 08:46 PM
I live in Cinnaminson, not the NJ shore and we have been living through severe flooding since 2005. The addition of The Shoppes at Cinnaminson has made the flooding worse! We pay high real estate taxes, we pay over $3000 a year for flood insurance. Where is the HELP for Cinnaminson residents?
proud January 16, 2013 at 09:02 PM
@ Barb Rivera, you should explore flood hazard mitigation. FEMA actually has some good information about it. You should also write your elected representatives locally, in Trenton and in Washington if you feel government assistance is needed. As to the "Shoppes", I don't no anything about it or how it may affect you. Good Luck.
Bill January 16, 2013 at 09:05 PM
@ agent itchy. Mend in Mwtn only requires $25k in income for a family of 4. http://www.mendinc.org/incomeeligibility.html
Katherine Jewlet January 16, 2013 at 10:26 PM
More pork approved. What's the difference with the chief communist in charge. Our future has already been mortgaged.
Porterincollingswood January 16, 2013 at 10:35 PM
They need to send you people back to grade school for civics class. Apparently they didn't teach it in NJ schools from 1960-onward. Barring that, I'd suggest you watch the "I'm Just a Bill" sketch from Saturday morning cartoon hours of your. You may learn something important about how the government works. Then we can move on to teaching you what communism is.
Porterincollingswood January 16, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Oh, the link... http://www.schooltube.com/video/89a42a6866404f4baab7/Im-Just-a-Bill
Porterincollingswood January 16, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Maybe let's walk before we run... http://www.schooltube.com/video/4f1391c53f3293235d07/
Favorite Teacher January 16, 2013 at 11:51 PM
map on H.R. 152 vote: republicans are red, you can just look at the map and wonder about karma... http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/113/house/1/23
Favorite Teacher January 16, 2013 at 11:54 PM
http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/113/house/1/23 remember when you vote...
Favorite Teacher January 16, 2013 at 11:57 PM
http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/113/house/1/23 remember when you vote...
Rick January 17, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Sue, Everyone did in fact blame Bush for not acting fast enough after Katrina. Lousiana might have been a red state in the 2004 elections but you can bet that New Orleans and environs were blue areas.
Barb Rivera January 17, 2013 at 12:52 AM
@ Proud.. Yes FEMA has Grants but the officials in this township don't care and they never added a repetitive loss in their flood ordinance.. Well actually nobody has been able to answer this question. Therefore my flood insurance company takes it as we don't have one so we lose out on a ICC Claim that would of payed $30,000 towards raising our home. I pay addt'l $$ for ICC on my policy but so ar haven't been able to get anything from it. This township is well aware of the flooding. They allow homes to be sold as well as new construction to go up and we just keep getting screwed!
Rick January 17, 2013 at 01:02 AM
Isn't it nice to see that ALL of the NJ representitives voted "Yea" regardless of being Ds or Rs?
Rick January 17, 2013 at 01:19 AM
Carolynne, I didn't know that the Red Cross was a government agency. It is a private charity and receives no funding from the government, either state or Federal.
Sandra January 17, 2013 at 04:19 PM
See the bill here. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr152ih/pdf/BILLS-113hr152ih.pdf
Dame Bridgid January 21, 2013 at 06:14 AM
Your ill chosen comments reflect neither reality, nor proper grammar. The North Eastern states have contributed generously to disasters in all other states year after year, yet in this time of need you would begrudge New Jersey aid in return. Shame on you.
Dame Bridgid January 21, 2013 at 06:27 AM
That is your ignorance talking, Mark. Usually the northeastern states are the ones providing for poorer states. Begrudging us assistance in an emergency when people are still homeless & without basics like heat during a northeastern winter is a sign that you were not raised properly. I pity you.
Dame Bridgid January 21, 2013 at 06:47 AM
Yes. Civil discussion of all possible solutions, & the will to compromise should be embraced by everyone. Respect & politeness for differing viewpoints need to be reintroduced into our government. Working together for the good of our country should be the focus of our elected officials rather than bickering. From every level, it needs to stop. I am willing to bet most of us agree upon that. I know I feel that way too.
Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC January 22, 2013 at 07:31 PM
If you have any questions about your business or home please contact Maria Patriarca, CPA at 908-272-6200 x 326 or email her at mpatriarca@fmrtl.com or visit our website for resources http://www.fmrtl.com/about/news/66-hurricane-sandy-recovery-resources


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