Boehner Relents on Sandy Aid Bill

Congress expected to vote on first part of package Friday.

House Speaker John Boehner promised to hold votes on a $60 billion Hurricane Sandy disaster relief package over the next two weeks, following his meeting with Rep. Peter King of New York on Wednesday.

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Congress is expected to vote Friday on $9.7 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program and the remaining $50.3 billion will go to the House floor for a vote on Jan. 15, where it will be split roughly into an $18-billion bill and a $33-billion amendment. If approved, the Senate must vote on all the pieces of the aid package, with a final vote expected the following week, according to Newsday.

Congress was expected to vote on the disaster relief package Wednesday, but Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled the bill — aimed at providing funding to storm-ravaged communities in New Jersey and New York, from Long Beach to the Hamptons — during a late night session of the “fiscal cliff” vote Tuesday. Since a new Congress will be sworn in Thursday, the relief package would have to return to the Senate, where a similar version of the bill was approved last Friday. The cancelled vote effectively delays certain funds that require authorization, such as FEMA disaster money.

King, R-Seaford, took to the House floor Tuesday and condemned Boehner’s decision to cancel the vote on the relief package as “absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible.” But after his meeting with the speaker in the Capital with other GOP lawmakers from New York and New Jersey on Wednesday, King provided an explanation for the cancelled vote. Said King:  

"The speaker had made the decision that with what was going on with the fiscal cliff it wasn't the right time to bring it up. We agreed to disagree. Obviously, we made our position clear last night … What's important as far as I'm concerned is, we got the absolute commitment to bring the whole $60 billion beginning on Friday and concluding on Jan. 15."

In a joint statement released Wednesday, Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, said: "Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations.”

Editor's Note: This article was written by Joseph Kellard.



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