Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., worked closely with enraged New York and New Jersey Republicans to push for swift action on a robust package, as it became clear the Senate bill would expire on Jan. 3. Boehner then made the Sandy bill a top priority for the 113th Congress, and the House on Jan. 4 passed its first Sandy aid measure (HR 41), 354-67. Cleared later that day by the Senate, this raised the borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program by $9.7 billion, an increase needed to allow continued payments to some affected homeowners.
Many amendments submitted to the Rules Committee last week were aimed at eliminating or reining in particular programs or demanding spending reductions to offset the emergency needs. Many are likely to fall to procedural hurdles before they can reach the floor, clearing the way for the House to agree to an additional $50 billion in spending.
“It’s been a political nightmare, and I’d think they want to get past it,” said Jim Dyer, a former House Appropriations Committee clerk and staff director and liaison to GOP leadership.