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Queens Chronicle

Congress approves Sandy flood aid

$9.7B in flood insurance claim money OK’d in bipartisan vote

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Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Jan 17, 2013.

Congress passed at least part of the $60 billion requested for aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy on Friday morning.

The House of Representatives passed part of the supplemental bill, which included $9.7 billion in flood insurance claim reimbursements for hurricane victims, by a vote of 354-67, with every Democrat and 161 Republicans voting in favor. Every member of Congress from Queens voted yes.

“Just cast my vote for $9.7 billion in Sandy flood relief,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-Bayside) wrote on Facebook Friday morning. “Long overdue and not enough, but it is a start.”

Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica) said he was glad to see the bill come to a vote, but warned it was not enough.

“This action, however, is woefully insufficient in addressing the significant concerns and needs of millions affected by last fall’s storm.New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents continue to suffer as vital reconstruction and relief programs remain unfunded,” said Meeks, whose new district includes all of the Rockaways and Broad Channel.

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) agreed the bill was long overdue.

“Homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy needed this money yesterday,” he said.

Sixty-seven Republicans voted against the bill, including former GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who argued the money needed to be allocated only after cuts were made to other programs to pay for it. The bill went to the Senate, where it passed by unanimous consent Friday afternoon.

Most of the rest of the money is expected to be placed up for a vote on Jan. 15. Republicans have criticized the package for including items not related to hurricane relief. But that bill died at the end of the 112th Congress on Jan. 3.

House Speaker John Boehner pulled a bill that included the entire amount on New Year’s Day to the dismay of local representatives from both parties, who criticized the speaker’s move. He later met with delegations from New York and New Jersey and announced he would put the money up for a vote last week and on Jan. 15.

“It is disappointing, disgusting, and frustrating that the House Republican leadership continues to play politics in delaying a vote to fully fund disaster relief,” Meeks said.“I hope sincerely that the Republican leadership honors its commitment to holding a vote on the rest of disaster relief funding on January 15, for we must act swiftly to ensure millions do not continue to suffer under the yoke of partisanship.”

In a joint statement with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Cuomo said they want the rest of the money allocated soon.

“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,” the governors said. “We are trusting Congress to act accordingly on January 15th and pass the final $51 billion instrumental for long-term rebuilding in order for New Jersey, New York and our people to recover after the severe devastation of Hurricane Sandy.”

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