House Passes First Portion Of Sandy Relief Package

House Passes First Portion Of Sandy Relief Package

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After a lot of loud complaints about delays, the U.S. House of Representatives finally approved aid Friday for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

The House said "yes" to $9.7 billion to pay flood insurance claims. The vote was 354-67.

The Senate is expected to pass the bill later Friday, and President Barack Obama promises to sign it quickly.

This is just part of the Sandy aid expected from Washington. Another vote is expected Jan. 15 for an additional $51 billion.

The whole process is frustrating New York and New Jersey, where many people are struggling to recover.

Last month, the Senate approved a $60-billion package. But conservative Republicans in the House delayed consideration of the Senate bill, calling it too expensive.

Political figures say the money is urgently needed for storm victims awaiting claim checks from the late-October storm.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called it "the first major step," adding that he hopes it will be completed on Jan. 15.

"I want to thank the leadership of both parties for coming together on this," King said. "But I want to emphasize that this legislation is vital. This is not a handout. This is not something we're looking for as a favor. What we're asking for is to be treated the same as victims in all other storms, all other natural disasters have been treated."

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) called the action by House leadership "too little and too late."

"I have to say I am still very upset, and I think it was deplorable that the Speaker did not bring this bill up, and the whole package that addresses Hurricane Sandy relief, in the lame-duck session in the last two days of Congress," Pallone said. "It would have been passed, we had the votes, it would have been on the president's desk, he would have signed it, and we would have started to rebuild the shore."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) added that Americans "will hold the Speaker and all of us to the promise that no later than the 15th of this month – some 11 days from today – that we will make a full contribution to those people."

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