President Obama signed the $50.5 billion Hurricane Sandy Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill (H.R. 152) into law Tuesday after the Senate passed the bill Monday by a vote of 62-36.
"I am pleased that Congress took bipartisan action to provide funding for the communities in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and other eastern states devastated by Hurricane Sandy," President Obama said in a statement after the Senate passage on Monday. "For the families working to put their lives back together, every day without relief is one day too many. So while I had hoped Congress would provide this aid sooner, I applaud the lawmakers from both parties who helped shepherd this important package through."
The Senate had passed a Hurricane Sandy relief bill in December, though that bill didn't get anywhere in the House. The House passed its own bill earlier this month (see related AASHTO Journal story: bit.ly/YIA6CC), which was roughly the same overall total as the previous Senate bill at $50.5 billion. The House bill gave the U.S. Department of Transportation $1 billion more than both the request from the President and the recently passed Senate version of the bill ($13.07 billion versus $12.07 billion). Most of the additional funds are targeted for the Federal Highway Administration (an increase in the House bill to just more $2.02 billion from the Senate's $921 million). The House bill decreased the amount of money the Senate approved for grants to Amtrak through the Federal Railroad Administration (down to $118 million from the Senate's $336 million). This House bill then went back to the Senate, passed, and was signed into law by Obama.
"Today's action in the Senate is a breakthrough for our region and victims of Superstorm Sandy who will at long last get the federal resources they need to recover and rebuild," said New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg in a statement. "New Jersey was devastated by this terrible storm and this legislation will help rebuild homes, businesses, and public infrastructure while strengthening our shore and transportation network for future extreme weather events."