The Administration's request for more than $60 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief, which includes more than $12 billion targeted for the U.S. Department of Transportation for repairs, passed the Senate (HR 1) last Friday by a vote of 63-32. The House today passed a portion of the request -- $9.7 billion for the National Flood Insurance program, by a vote of 354-67, but it would not consider the full Senate-approved bill until the week of January 14, when Congress would be back in session.
House leaders originally planned a vote on the bill early this week, but the vote to avoid the fiscal cliff had House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) postpone the vote. Several members, especially those whose constituencies reside in areas affected by Sandy, expressed their strong desire to have the vote on relief funding immediately and to not wait. President Obama released a statement Wednesday urging the House to pass a bill to help those affected by Sandy.
"When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need," Obama said. "I urge Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same, bring this important request to a vote today, and pass it without delay for our fellow Americans."
In response to the calls for a vote, Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) stated it would be the first issue to be addressed in the 113th Congress, which officially began Thursday.
"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," said a joint statement released by Boehner and Cantor Wednesday. "The House will vote Friday to direct needed resources to the National Flood Insurance Program. And on January 15, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy."
The Senate bill includes just over $12 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation: $30 million for Federal Aviation Administration repairs, $921 million for Federal Highway Administration fixes, $336 million for the Federal Railroad Administration, and $10.783 billion for the Federal Transit Administration.