On the night of January 15, the House of Representatives passed a bill appropriating $50.5 billion in emergency relief funds for victims of last October’s Hurricane Sandy. The legislation, H.R. 152, “Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013,” sponsored by Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) passed by a vote of 241-180. A total of 192 Democrats and 49 Republicans voted in support of the measure, with 179 Republicans and one Democrat opposed.
Republicans from the Northeastern states impacted by Sandy tended to join Democrats in supporting the measure, including Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) who pleaded emphatically, “We are not crying wolf here.”
Another Republican strongly backing the bill was Peter T. King of Long Island, an area hit hard by Sandy, who was quoted by the New York Times: “It is unfortunate that we had to fight so hard to be treated the same as every other state has been treated.”
An AP report quoted Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) who made an equally emotional appeal for support:
I just plead with my colleagues not to have a double standard. Not to vote tornado relief to Alabama, to Louisiana, to Mississippi, Missouri, to — with Ike, Gustav, Katrina, Rita — but when it comes to the Northeast, with the second worst storm in the history of our country, to delay, delay, delay."
During debate prior to the vote, Maloney criticized the delay in getting the legislation passed, stating: “Residents have been suffering for two-and-a-half months. We need the aid. We need it now.”
The governors of the tri-state area most impacted by Sandy — New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut — cited a damage figure stemming from the storm of $82 billion, so H.R. 152 covers about 62 percent of the total damage. The amount of aid received by these states seems like less of a “bargain,” however, when one considers the low amount of tax dollars they receive for every dollar they send to Washington.
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