House speaker agrees to votes on Sandy disaster relief

Debris floats around a house pushed off it's foundation in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. Debris floats around a house pushed off it's foundation in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy. Jessica Hill/AP
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, reacting to criticism over his decision to adjourn the House without passing a $60 billion Superstorm Sandy aid bill, has agreed to take action on an aid package after all, lawmakers say.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.,  leaving a meeting in Boehner’s office on Wednesday afternoon, told reporters the speaker has agreed to hold a vote on about $9 billion in flood aid and will set that for Friday.

King said that Boehner also promised that when lawmakers return on Jan. 15, the House would take up a remaining $51 billion part of the package, which addresses a range of needs from housing to public transportation.

Since late Tuesday night, lawmakers, governors and other officials in both parties from Sandy-impacted states have been criticizing Boehner for refusing to bring a $60 billion bill passed by the Senate to a vote on New Year’s Day. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tri-state region alone were destroyed by the storm.

“I don’t know the reason,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., on Wednesday, as to why Boehner declined to vote on the bill. “Whatever it was -- it was not justified.”
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