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House approves $9.7 billion in Sandy flood aid

By Andrew Miga

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 4 2013 10:24 a.m. MST

Boehner, of Ohio, had promised a House vote on Friday after his decision to delay an action on a broader Sandy relief package provoked outrage from Northeast Republicans, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said he'd lost trust in GOP leaders in Congress after being promised a vote earlier this week.

New York Republican lawmakers who met with Boehner after the uproar said he explained that after the contentious vote Tuesday to avoid major tax increases and spending cuts called the "fiscal cliff," he didn't think it was right to schedule the vote before the previous Congress ended on Thursday.

About 140,000 Sandy-related flood insurance claims have been filed, FEMA officials said, and there are about 115,000 pending claims. Many flood victims have only received partial payments on their claims.

Sandy was the most costly natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and was blamed for at least 120 deaths. Northeast lawmakers have complained that it took just 10 days for Congress to approve about $50 billion in aid for Katrina but that it hasn't provided aid for Sandy relief in more than two months.

The storm damaged or destroyed more than 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey. In New York, 305,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed and more than 265,000 businesses were affected.

"States and local communities need to know the money will be there before they can give a green light to start rebuilding," said LoBiondo.

More than $2 billion in federal money has been spent so far on relief efforts for 11 states and the District of Columbia struck by the storm. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia are receiving FEMA aid.

Associated Press writer Jim Abrams contributed to this report.)

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