Sandy relief votes to come in January, say House leaders

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The House will hold a vote Jan. 4 on whether to direct $9 billion to the National Flood Insurance Program to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy, the Republican leadership said Jan. 2.

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

The Senate passed $60 billion in aid to Sandy victims on Dec. 28, but the House adjourned its session Jan. 2 without a vote.

Speaking on the House floor that day, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called the inaction, "absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We have a moral obligation to hold this vote."

"Already, this marks one of the longest delays in congressional action in response to a major natural disaster in recent memory," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

The governors of the states hit hardest by Sandy have said they together need far more than $60 billion. Andrew Cuomo has said New York alone needs $41.9 billion, Chris Christie has said New Jersey needs $36.9 billion, and Dan Malloy has said Connecticut needs $3.2 billion.

New York's $41.9 billion assessment is 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 divides up into more than $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.

The aid bill the Senate passed includes $17 billion for community development block grants, $12 billion to restore transportation systems, and $5 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

For more:
- go to the Republican leadership's Jan. 2 statement
- watch lawmakers criticize the lack of a vote on the House floor

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