Congress debates Sandy relief

Federal lawmakers from the tri-state area took to the floor of Congress Tuesday to urge their colleagues to act immediately on federal disaster aid following Superstorm Sandy.

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are taking up this afternoon more than a dozen amendments that seek to deliver $50.7 billion in federal aid to New Jersey and other states affected by Sandy.

The final vote, which is expected to take place later tonight, comes after Gov. Chris Christie and other officials blasted Republican leaders in the House for pulling the rug out on a vote prior to the start of the new Congress.

“Disaster means disaster and emergency means emergency,” said Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) today.

“We were there for you,” he said on the House floor. “We need this and we need this now.”

LoBiondo’s comments were echoed by fellow House lawmakers from the Garden State.

“My collegues, people are hurting,” said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), adding that some reports indicate the Northeast could have sustained $100 billion worth of damage.

“The suffering and damage are real and their needs are great,” he said. “The destruction is staggering.”

Christie criticized fellow Republican House Speaker John Boehner for preventing the Senate’s $60.4 billion bill from hitting the House floor for a vote.

“New Jersey does not expect anything more than what was done for Louisiana and Alabama and Mississippi in Katrina, what was done in Joplin, Missouri, what was done in the floods in Iowa,” Christie said earlier this month.

“We don’t expect anything more than that; but we will not accept anything less. If they want to make new rules about disasters, well they picked the wrong state to make new rules with,” he said.

"He’s obviously working very, very hard at it. I mean he’s traveling all over the country as chairman of the [Republican Governors Association] and I think at this point he has as good a chance or better than anybody else. His name is household word all across the country, and I think he would make a great president."
—former U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-3), on Gov. Chris Christie