Congress and Obama approve $9.7B in aid to Sandy victims


Congress approved $9.7 billion in aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy Jan. 4, with President Obama signing the measure into law Jan. 6 despite the amount totaling well less than the $60.4 billion the Obama administration had asked for.

The House passed the bill (H.R. 41) by a vote of 354-67; all those who voted against it were Republicans. The Senate then approved the bill by voice vote.

The bill provides its aid simply by increasing the borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program from $20.7 billion to $30.4 billion.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have said that on Jan. 15, the first full legislative day of the new Congress, the House will consider further aid.

The governors of the states hit hardest by Sandy said last month that they together need far more than $60 billion. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) says New York alone needs $41.9 billion and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says his state needs $36.9 billion. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) pegs his state's disaster assistance needs at $3.2 billion.

New York's assessment of $41.9 billion was made up of about $33 billion in repairs and $9 billion to prevent damage from future storms. The prevention money would fund projects such as flood protection for roads, subway tunnels and sewage treatment plants, as well as backup power systems for hospitals.

Of the repair money, about $15 billion would be for New York City. Long Island's Nassau and Suffolk counties would get nearly $7 billion and $2 billion, respectively. The rest would go toward other counties, utilities, state agencies and transit authorities.

New Jersey's assessment divided up into about $29 billion for repairs and $7 billion for prevention. The former includes roughly $8 billion for businesses, $6 billion for parks and the environment, $5 billion for housing and $3 billion for water and sewage systems.

For more:
- go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 41

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