Congress approved a $9.7 billion aid bill for victims of Superstorm Sandy on Friday, amid a gusty debate between those who say Congress must ultimately approve a total of $60 billion to help communities rebuild and those who warn the aid package is festooned with unnecessary and costly items.
The Senate approved the first installment Friday afternoon after the House passed it earlier in the day. House Speaker John Boehner has pledged to bring up the other $51 billion in his chamber by mid-January, a commitment made after New York-area lawmakers revolted at his decision to put off the vote in the prior session.
Sandy left 120 dead and thousands homeless in the densely populated Northeast, and lawmakers from New York and New Jersey called Friday on Congress to swiftly approve the rest of the aid.
“To be a bride left at the altar once is bad enough. To be left at the altar twice would unconscionable,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, said Friday. “And so we need the House to move forward and pass the full $60 billion.”