U.S. House approves first phase of Sandy relief

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $9.7 billion package to recharge FEMA flood insurance funds Friday.

The funds will replenish the agency’s flood insurance program and ensure aid will continue to go to recipients affected by Superstorm Sandy.

The vote in the new Congress comes after House GOP leadership pulled the plug on a vote on a $60.4 billion aid package earlier this week for New Jersey and other states affected by Sandy.

The last-minute decision not to post the bill for a vote spurred an outcry of criticism from tri-state area officials and lawmakers, including Gov. Chris Christie, who said New Jersey residents were treated “like pawns on a chess board.”

FEMA warned it would run out of flood insurance dollars early next week unless Congress acts to recharge the flood insurance.

Since the House failed to take up the aid bill prior to the new Congress, the proposal will now go to the Senate for a vote.

The House is expected to vote on the second half of the Sandy relief aid on Jan. 15.

"I don't think what he's doing tonight, the method by which he's doing it helps to build a trustful relationship."
—Gov. Chris Christie reacting to President Barack Obama's speech on immigration reform.