Under pressure from lawmakers in regions affected by Hurricane Sandy, the first legislative action of the 113th Congress was to pass a $9.7 billion disaster aid bill.
The House voted 354 to 67 in favor of the legislation, which temporarily increases the borrowing authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency for carrying out the National Flood Insurance Program. The Senate later approved the bill by a voice vote.
The funding included in the bill is only a small portion of the more than $60 billion that was included in a separate bill that was passed by the Senate last week.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Lead Eric Cantor, R-Virg., said the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy on January 15th.
The remaining $51 billion in funding may face stiffer resistance, as some Republicans argued that the original Senate bill included spending that was unrelated to disaster recovery.
Boehner drew the ire of a number of Congressmen from areas that were impacted by the storm when he adjourned the previous session of Congress without bringing the disaster aid bill up for a vote.
New York Republican Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., was particularly upset with the decision, calling on constituents to stop donating to congressional Republicans.
"I'm saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds," King told Fox News on Wednesday.
He added, "Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace."
However, the irate lawmakers were later assuaged by assurances from Boehner and subsequently backed off from their criticism of House GOP leadership.
"It was very important [but] as far as I'm concerned, it's over with," King said on CNN's Starting Point on Thursday. "John Boehner and I have been friends before, hopefully we'll be friends again. We shook hands yesterday."
Some lawmakers claimed the original decision to pull the bill was politically motivated, saying Republican leaders did not want to vote on a big spending bill right after raising taxes in the fiscal cliff agreement.
by RTT Staff Writer
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