House's $50.7B Sandy relief bill mainly goes through HUD, FEMA, FTA

Package adds to $9.7B in aid already passed
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The House approved $50.7 billion in aid to the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy on Jan. 15.

Along with the $9.7 billion in aid President Obama signed into law Jan. 6, the bill, if it becomes law, will bring the total aid to precisely the $60.4 billion Obama proposed in December.

Funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Transit Administration make up the bulk of the package. HUD's community development fund, FEMA's disaster relief fund, and FTA's public transportation emergency relief program each would get more than $10 billion.

Others set to receive hundreds of millions or billions of dollars include the Army Corps of Engineers, the Small Business Administration (to make direct loans), the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Interior Department's office of the secretary, the Health and Human Services Department's public health and social services emergency fund, and the Federal Highway Administration.

The bill passed 241-180, with 49 Republicans and 192 Democrats in favor. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) was the only member of his party opposed.

The package consists of a $17 billion baseline plus a $33 billion amendment from Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). The baseline passed 327-91, while the amendment passed 228-192.

An amendment to cut all fiscal 2013 discretionary appropriations by 1.63 percent, to offset $17 billion of the aid, failed by a vote of 258-162. Seventy-one Republicans, including Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), voted against the amendment. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) voted for it, as did Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

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) said New York alone needs $41.9 billion and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) said his state needs $36.9 billion. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D) pegged his state's disaster assistance needs at $3.2 billion.

Still, the governors praised the bill in a joint statement: "We are grateful to those members of Congress who today pulled together in a unified, bipartisan coalition to assist millions of their fellow Americans."

The Senate passed $60 billion in aid to Sandy victims near the end of the previous session of Congress. It returns to work Jan. 22.

For more:
- go to the THOMAS webpage for H.R. 152

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