Vote on first portion of Sandy Aid set for Friday

The House of Representatives will take up the first portion of the Sandy Aid package Friday, voting on $9.7 billion in flood insurance funding. 

The remainder of the $60 billion package will come up for vote on Jan. 15, the first day of the new legislative session.  That bill will be voted on in two parts, according to U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, who earlier this afternoon was part of the delegation that met with Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The first measure taken up will be for $27 billion in aid, while the second vote will be on an amendment sponsored by U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen for the additional $33 billion in aid for rebuilding of the state’s infrastructure damaged by the storm.

It’s unclear which portion of the aid package encompasses the $9.7 billion in flood insurance. 

According to Smith, the package was broken into two portions to make the aid more palatable to some in the House who may be inclined to vote for the $27 billion in aid to municipalities, but not the additional $33 billion for repair.

The total of $60 billion matches the bill approved by the Senate Friday.

Smith said he is confident the votes are in place for both measures.

“This is a great day for New Jersey,” said Smith, R-4, the dean of the state’s House delgation.  Smith’s district includes portions of Monmouth and Ocean counties, which were hit particularly hard by the storm.  “It took us a few weeks to get here, but we’re here now.”

In a move that stunned elected officials from New Jersey and New York, Boehner last night announced the House would not take up the aid package.  Elected officials from both parties, including Gov. Chris Christie, lambasted Bohner and the House GOP for its failure to act.

In a floor speech just after the announcement, Smith decried the lack of aid and outlined the state’s need.

“For days and weeks, like many of my colleagues, after the storm hit, I met hundreds—even thousands—of tenacious women and men who despite crippling losses were happy to be alive and determined to rebuild,” Smith said. “I’ll never forget one resident of Belmar who came up to me the day after Superstorm Sandy and said, ‘I’ve lost everything, but at least I’m alive.’ We need to now backstop these individuals; we need to ensure that the moneys are there, that they flow quickly to ensure that they can rebuild, and their homes or businesses and the municipalities that have done a yeoman’s work in helping them all gather and unite behind them.”

 Congressman Sires released the following statement in response to Speaker John Boehner’s decision to not bring up the Senate passed Sandy disaster assistance package before the end of the 112th Congress:

“I am severely disappointed that Speaker Boehner has opted to not bring the Sandy disaster assistance package that recently passed the Senate to the House floor for an up or down vote.  Failure to bring this bill to the floor by the end of the 112thCongress in its final hours means that we will have to start all over again in the new Congress and draft a new bill.  The victims of Sandy have already waited over two months to receive the necessary aid from the government to help them rebuild and recover.  This lack of sensitivity to our region and victims of the storm shown by the Republican leadership is unprecedented.

“Congress has always come together after natural disasters to immediately provide the necessary assistance to help communities recover and rebuild.  Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast- Congress approved more than $62 billion in federal aid.  One month after Hurricanes Ike and Gustav hit Texas- Congress approved more than $20 billion in aid.  It is truly shameful that the House Leadership will not even bring to the floor the Senate approved disaster assistance package requested by the President to help victims of Sandy.  

“The damage done by Sandy is far beyond the resources and capacity that any single state possesses to recover on its own.  The current recovery funding for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will run out soon, and without this supplemental disaster assistance package residents and businesses that lost everything in the storm will not have the aid to help them recover.  I urge Speaker Boehner to reconsider his decision and bring up this critical package to the floor before the 112thCongress comes to a close.”

 

"This meeting is entirely off the record. Until somebody leaks it."
—Michael Kempner, addressing a roomful of Democratic powerbrokers organizng for Hillary Clinton