Under fire from fellow Republicans from Sandy-stricken New York and New Jersey, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, today agreed to hold two separate votes on storm relief including one vote on Friday to make about $9 billion available to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is running out of funds to pay Sandy flood claims.
Boehner promised that a second vote on supplemental disaster aid for states hit by Superstorm Sandy will be held on Jan. 15, the first day of the new 113th Congress.
The measure to be considered on Friday already passed the Senate and would increase the borrowing authority of the NFIP to help cover claims from Sandy from $20.7 billion to $30.4 billion, effective retroactively to Dec 12, 2012.
Boehner’s decision came after he pulled the Sandy relief bill from consideration yesterday following the dramatic House vote on the fiscal cliff legislation. Angry Republican House members took to the floor of the House to criticize Boehner for not proceeding with the Sandy relief bill. Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, and Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, also blasted the failure to vote on the bill.
“Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegations,” Boehner said in a statement
“The House will vote Friday to direct needed resources to the National Flood Insurance Program. And on January 15th, the first full legislative day of the 113th Congress, the House will consider the remaining supplemental request for the victims of Hurricane Sandy,” said Boehner, who is expected to be re-elected to his leadership post by the new House.
The Senate has already passed a $60 billion Sandy aid bill, which some House Republicans have criticized as too big. They planned to break the $60 billion into two parts requiring separate votes, one for immediate and another for long-term aid.
But that House strategy and the Senate’s approval will expire with the 112th Congress and the Senate will have to reconsider Sandy disaster relief legislation when the new Congress convenes.