US Senate At Last Approves Sandy Relief Aid

The US Senate has finally approved $50 billion in relief funding for the victims of Superstorm Sandy.  Lawmakers in the hard-hit states are furious that Washington took so long to approve the funding.  Several members of Congress noted the hypocrisy of passing relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina in 11 days, while delaying aid for Sandy victims for 91 days.

The Senate voted 62-36 to approve the funding, which includes money for homeowners, business owners, hospitals, and transit systems.  The aid is expected to help tens of thousands of families who lost their homes and belongings to Sandy, and have been living in makeshift dwellings ever since.  New York State officials estimated over $42 billion in damages were reported from the storm, while New Jersey tallied $37 billion in damages.
The Senate initially approved $60 billion in aid in the middle of December, but Republicans demanded $10 billion in cuts.  As a result, politicians had to start from scratch, which further delayed the aid.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – who is also a Republican – famously called his federal counterparts’ actions “why the American people hate Congress.”
Republicans were demanding that spending cuts in other areas of the budget be approved in order to validate the aid, but New York Senator Chuck Schumer called the Republican demands hypocritical.  Schumer says New York citizens pay taxes to fund relief for wildfires on the West Coast as well as providing aid for Hurricane Katrina victims.
“We've sent our tax dollars, billions of them and now, all of a sudden, some are suggesting we should change the rules when we are hit by the first major disaster to hit the New York City region in a very long time.  That's not fair.  That's not right.”

President Obama was also unhappy the legislation took so long to pass, but vowed to get the money flowing as soon as the bill arrives on his desk.

“So while I had hoped Congress would provide this aid sooner, I applaud the lawmakers from both parties who helped shepherd this important package through.”