House of Representatives approves funds for victims of Superstorm Sandy

Friday 04 January 2013 17.27
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The funding will help people whose homes were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy
The funding will help people whose homes were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy
John Boehner will serve another two years as speaker of the US House of Representatives
John Boehner will serve another two years as speaker of the US House of Representatives

The US House of Representatives has approved $9.7bn in initial federal funds for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

New York and New Jersey lawmakers remain angry over delays in voting on the rest of a $60bn aid package.

The 354-67 vote will keep the National Flood Insurance Program solvent and able to continue paying claims of thousands of home owners who suffered damage in coastal New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The measure must still receive approval from the US Senate, where a senior Democratic aide said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was hoping to approve it by unanimous consent.

US House Speaker John Boehner drew scathing criticism earlier this week from fellow Republicans when he cancelled a House vote on the full $60.4bn aid package passed by the Senate.

The frustration continued on both sides of the aisle today, as lawmakers said the flood insurance infusion would do little to help the bulk of those suffering more than two months after the devastating 29 October storm.

The vote came after Mr Boehner won re-election as speaker.

He defeated House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi 220-192 in a vote.

The Ohio congressman vowed to use his second term to shrink the national debt of $16 trillion to prevent it from "draining free enterprise".

He narrowly avoided the embarrassment of having to go to a second round of voting, as 12 conservatives held back their support for him.

It was the closest margin of any speaker vote since 1997.

But without a challenger from inside his party, Mr Boehner's re-election was never in doubt, even though he has struggled to control an unruly group of fiscal conservatives in his caucus.

True to form, the often-emotional Mr Boehner shed a tear or two as he took the gavel and spelled out the challenges ahead.

"Our government has built up too much debt. Our economy is not producing enough jobs. These are not separate problems," he said.

"At $16 trillion and rising, our national debt is draining free enterprise and weakening the ship of state."

Questions were asked about Mr Boehner's speakership when conservative Tea Party-backed politicians delivered him a stinging defeat in December by rejecting a proposal of his during talks with President Barack Obama to raise taxes on millionaires.

Mr Boehner came under fire on Tuesday for voting for a compromise deal to prevent the US economy from falling off the "fiscal cliff".

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