Washington Week

$9.7 billion for Sandy victims

WASHINGTON — The 113th Congress got right down to business on Friday, voting to approve $9.7 billion in relief funding for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

The measure authorizes the National Flood Insurance Plan, which was on the verge of running out of money, to borrow the additional funds as it struggles to meet the claims of victims from the giant hurricane, which devastated much of the Northeast, particularly New Jersey and New York, in late October.

The bill passed in the House by a 354-67 margin, with 161 Republicans and 193 Democrats approving the measure. All 67 no votes came from Republicans.

U.S. House vote

• Authorize the National Flood Insurance Plan

Walden (R) Y

Blumenauer (D) Y

Bonamici (D) Y

DeFazio (D) Y

Schrader (D) Y

The Senate then approved the bill by unanimous consent, sending it to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

Just before the 112th Congress’ term expired, the Senate voted for $60 billion in Sandy aid, but House Speaker John Boehner did not bring the matter up for a vote in the House, and the bill expired. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, already being mentioned as a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, held a press conference during which he blasted Boehner for the delay. Christie said the lack of a vote showed a “callous indifference to the people of our state.”

“In our hour of desperate need, we’ve been left waiting for help six times longer than the victims of Katrina with no end in sight,” said Christie. “Sixty-six days and counting, shame on you. Shame on Congress.”

Boehner has agreed to hold a second vote on the additional $51 billion in funding on Jan. 15, which when combined with this week’s funds would match the total in the initial bill passed by the Senate.

— Andrew Clevenger, The Bulletin