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House passes Superstorm Sandy aid package

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: House passes Superstorm Sandy aid package
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The House has approved a $50.7 billion bill to help victims of Superstorm Sandy. Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Erin Billups has more on the measure that's expected to be taken up by the Senate next Tuesday.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a vote of 241 to 180, the House approved the $50.5 billion Sandy Disaster Aid package Tuesday evening.

The package was split into two main bills. The first, a $17 billion measure, passed overwhelmingly.

"I always knew in my heart that we would come together to help our constituents," New York Representative Carolyn McCarthy said.

It addresses the immediate needs, adding $5.4 billion to FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund, $5.4 billion for New York and New Jersey's transit systems, nearly $4 billion for Housing programs and another $1.4 billion to the Army Corp of Engineers.

The second piece provides $33.7 billion for longer term recovery and mitigation projects.

The House voted on over a dozen amendments to the aid bill, calling for offsets to pay for the package, cutting it down or demanding pork projects be removed.

"Everything is there, every earmark is out, every dollar is accounted for. I walked through my neighborhood, I see the people who lost their homes. I know how tragic it is, all of us know it. This is not make believe," New York Representative Peter King said.

Even when it was clear the Sandy Aid bill would finally make it to the House floor, democrats still expressed frustration with all of the delays.

"While I am glad we are considering this amendment today, it is a travesty that it has taken this long for the House of Representatives to allow a vote on disaster response funding," New York Representative Jose Serrano said.

"Our response has been characterized by delay, obstruction, postponement, obfuscation," New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries said.

To that, some republicans did not apologize.

“For those who would like to say we’ve taken our time, I’d like to say I think we’re trying to do it right," said Texas Representative Pete Sessions.

The Senate is expected to take up the House passed bill next week after the inauguration.

"The House bill isn't as good as the Senate bill, but it's close enough and I'll be urging my colleagues in the Senate to quickly pass the House bill without further amendment," New York Senator Charles Schumer said.

Schumer says they hope to have the bill on the president's desk by the end of next week.

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