Congress passes $50.5 billion aid package for Sandy relief

Late on Tuesday night, the Congress passed a financial package for storm-ravaged Northeaster states.

Two months after Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast coast of the U.S., and several weeks after the U.S. Senate passed its own bill designed to provide emergency aid, the House of Representatives approved a $50.5 billion relief package on Tuesday, January 15.

The vote passed by a 241-180 vote, with all but one of the nay votes coming from Congressional Republicans. GOP representatives were divided on the issue, with fiscal hawks concerned about the inclusion of aid to other states in the package.

The bill is substantively different from the one passed earlier in the Senate, however, and will now need to be passed by that body. It will then be sent to the White House for signing and enactment by President Obama.

"We are not crying wolf here," said Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey. The representative had urged members of Congress from both political parties to pass the legislation.

The AP reported that "Democrats were more politically pointed as they brushed back Southern conservatives who sought either to reduce the measure or offset part of its cost through spending cuts elsewhere in the budget."

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and several New York Republican members of Congress were vocal in the past two weeks about their states needing the support. Democratic representatives sounded off, too.

"I just plead with my colleagues not to have a double standard," said New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. "Not to vote tornado relief to Alabama, to Louisiana, to Mississippi, Missouri ... when it comes to the Northeast, with the second worst storm in the history of our country, to delay, delay, delay."