A few weeks ago 67 House Republicans voted against the $9.7 billion National Flood Insurance portion of the Sandy aid package, but it was passed into law. The House is now scheduled to take up Tuesday the remaining $50 billion part of the aid package for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Work on the bill may continue until tomorrow. The bill would next have to go to the Senate, which is not in session until January 21.
According to WNYC, by late Friday 70 proposed amendments were filed to the bill, many of them generated by tea party Republicans who want to leverage the Sandy package to force cuts in unrelated discretionary spending. According to The Hill, the Republican-led House Rules Committee approved a rule late Monday that shuts out most GOP proposals to pare back the size of the bill.
The main bill provides $17 billion in relief to rebuild infrastructure directly destroyed by Sandy. An amendment made would add another $33.7 billion to prepare for a future storm - for a total of $50.7 billion.
Kerry Young in a Roll Call article predicts, "House conservatives are likely to be frustrated this week in the year's first test of their drive to cut spending, with the chamber on a path to pass a major Superstorm Sandy recovery package."
Roll Call indicates the House convenes today at 10 a.m. with a reading of the Constitution. The first votes are expected: 1:30-2 p.m. You can view activity on the House Floor via C-Span.
The consequences of congressional action on this matter can not be over-estimated. As the Star-Ledger reported on a Rutgers University study:
"With an infusion of roughly $25 billion for recovery efforts due to Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey's economy will fare slightly better in the future than if the storm had never hit the state. But if those funds are not released, New Jersey faces significant financial consequences." Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson told MSNBC his town had already borrowed money to get repairs underway assuming the Federal aid would come through."We in Asbury Park are already $10 million in the deep. We can't wait for leadership from Washington. The summer season is our bread and butter."