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House Passes $50.7B Sandy Emergency Bill

Story by Joseph Kellard and David Reich-Hale

More than two months after Superstorm Sandy devastated much of Long Island's south shore, Congress approved a $50.7 billion emergency relief bill set to provide relief for families and businesses trying to recover.

The passage came after outcry from many elected officials, some who went down to Washington to lobby for the relief package.

“Tonight’s vote to provide $60 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief was an outstanding victory for the people of New York, New Jersey and Long Island," said Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford, in a statement. "It is unfortunate that we had to fight so hard to be treated the same as every other state has been treated. But we did fight this bias against the northeast and thank god our residents won.”

Rep. King had hammered his own party's leaders after they chose not to vote on the bill earlier this month. The emergency bill passed by a 241-180 measure, though partisanship remained. Only 49 Republicans voted in favor of the relief bill, while 179 opposed it. Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said: "There are times when a disaster simply goes beyond our ability to budget. Hurricane Sandy is one of those times."

The damage on Long Island was extensive, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said restoration costs could top $8 billion.

In areas such as Long Beach, about half of Long Beach homes remain vacant, local Realtors said. Another 95,534 buildings on Long Island were damaged or destroyed, according to FEMA.

The $50.7 billion relief bill comes about two weeks after the last Congress passed a much smaller $9.7 billion package, which wrapped up a highly charged debate around the House's failure to vote on a $60.4 billion Sandy aid bill on Jan. 1.

"The vote in the House of Representatives to approve federal aid for states affected by Hurricane Sandy is a welcome relief for New Yorkers and all homeowners, businesses, and communities that were hit by the storm," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

The House measure passed Tuesday included $16 billion to repair New York and New Jersey transit systems and a similar amount for housing and other needs in the areas affected by the October storm.

Jeri Reiderer January 17, 2013 at 11:55 AM
How much are the victims really going to get? I also think this money should go to homeowners first, businesses next and THEN to rebuild the Jersey Playland or any other boardwalks. Priorities first!


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