After the rancor over House Speaker John Boehner’s refusal to call a vote for Superstorm Sandy aid in the dying hours of the 112th Congress, the 113th Congress moved swiftly to rectify things.
Shortly after Boehner promised two votes on Sandy aid packages, Congress passed a $9.7 billion aid package for the storm’s victims on Friday. The bill passed by a 354-67 margin in the House, and passed unanimously in the Senate without any debate. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law today.
This was the first bill passed by the new Congress, though it paled in comparison to the relief package being considered by the previous Congress. Much of the aid proposed there will come up for vote on January 15, and it is likely that the $51 billion proposal will face increased scrutiny.
Some politicians are complaining that Superstorm Sandy aid packages are being used as a way to sneak in earmarks, such as $8 million for Homeland Security and Justice Department cars, $2 million for repairs to Smithsonian building roofs, $150 million for fisheries, and $100 million for repairs to Fresh Start facilities. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., flatly denied that this was the case.
In the end, the package that passed Friday was much more limited in scope. This bill will help pay flood insurance claims from Sandy, increasing the borrowing authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to carry out the National Flood Insurance Program. Without passage, 100,000 claims could have been delayed.
– Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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