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Under Bipartisan Fire, House GOP Leaders Set Up Votes for Sandy Aid

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Christie, the outspoken governor of New Jersey, held a news conference Wednesday in which he criticized House Republican leadership for not scheduling a vote on a disaster aid package before the end of the 112th Congress. New Jersey was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

Instead of moving a “legitimate” relief package, senators “ packed this with pork,” House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told Fox News on Wednesday. “The relief will come early next year, but it will come at the $27 billion level, or I don’t expect to be voting for it.”

But Northeast lawmakers said the House could have moved a smaller measure more to the GOP’s liking. The House could have “cleaned up” the Senate-passed measure, said Tom Reed of New York, who is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

There were always doubts that the House and Senate could complete a Sandy aid measure in December while wrangling with expiring tax rates and approaching automatic spending cuts. But, in recent days, the New York and New Jersey delegations appeared to be gaining ground in their efforts to get Sandy aid legislation on the House floor with Cantor’s support. The House Appropriations Committee put forward a compromise measure.

Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., had produced a two-part plan Tuesday for funding the recovery efforts that could be revived in the 113th Congress.

An initial amendment would have pared down the $60.4 billion Senate measure to a $27 billion initial injection of aid, which would have addressed urgent needs, such as expanding the flood insurance program’s borrowing authority. A potential amendment would have provided $33 billion for longer-term recovery projects.

Rogers said Tuesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency “has plenty of money for the immediate needs through at least February. I’m sure by then we would have passed whatever is necessary to keep them going through the fiscal year.”

FEMA, which manages the flood insurance program, notified Congress on Wednesday afternoon that unless it receives more borrowing authority, it will run out of money to pay claims next week. There is bipartisan support for granting the new borrowing authority, which the White House requested last month.

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