After Delay, ’Sandy Relief’ Bills Signed into Law

A $60.4 billion emergency aid bill that passed the Senate on December 28 was not taken up by the House and expired at the end of the 112th Congress. Many, including Representative Peter King of New York, a Republican Co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, criticized Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) for not bringing that bill to the House floor for a vote. Some conservatives in the House objected to that bill for including emergency spending for areas not affected by Hurricane Sandy.

On January 4, the day after being sworn in, the House passed legislation (H.R. 41) increasing the federal government’s borrowing authority under the National Flood Insurance Act from $20.75 billion to $30.425 billion. After being subsequently passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama, enactment of this legislation allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to continue spending through the flood insurance program, which was close to running out of money.

On January 15, the House passed a second bill, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act (H.R. 152), providing an additional $50.7 billion in Sandy-related aid. Certain spending targeted to areas not impacted by Sandy were not included in H.R. 152 but the spending is not offset by cuts to other programs as a large number House Republicans desired. The Senate subsequently passed H.R. 152 and it was signed into law by President Obama on January 29.