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Congress Quickly Approves $9.7 Billion In Hurricane Sandy Flood Aid

But Cuomo, Christie Call It Just A Down Payment, Want The Other $51 Billion
A destroyed home is viewed along the beach in the Belle Harbor on January 2, 2013 in the Queens. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A destroyed home is viewed along the beach in the Belle Harbor on January 2, 2013 in the Queens. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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Superstorm Sandy

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — Part one is done.

The House of Representatives and Senate approved a Hurricane Sandy relief bill on Friday. That means checks could soon be in the mail for tens of thousands of storm victims to repair their homes and businesses, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

It passed the Senate quietly. New York Sen. Charles Schumer oversaw a voice vote that took just seconds.

But in the lower house, fury over delays caused by Speaker John Boehner in taking up aid for Sandy provoked vitriol.

“How dare you come to this floor and make people think everything is okay?” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said. “Who the heck are you kidding? This is a total, total disaster in helping those people that we are pompously saying today pontificating about we’re helping them.”

“Talk about fiddling while New York City burns,” added Rep. Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.)

And after the vote to approve $9.7 billion for the federal flood insurance program, Long Island Rep. Peter King admitted to CBS 2’s Kramer that even though Speaker Boehner relented and allowed the vote, he still harbored some hard feelings.

“I’m not going to carry a grudge, but on the other hand I will be more skeptical as we go forward,” said Rep. King, a Republican. “I will be more suspicious as we go forward because I know of all the pressures that are on John Boehner and even though I trust John, I realize things can happen.”

Among the things that can happen are problems with the big Sandy aid bill, the $51 billion appropriate that the House is supposed to take up Jan. 15.

“To be a bride and left at the altar once is bad enough. To be left twice would be unconscionable,” Sen. Schumer said.

About 120,000 Sandy-related flood insurance claims have yet to be closed out, claims like the one filed by Clifford Fusco of Staten Island. Washington inaction has so far prevented him from getting money to fix his storm-ravaged home.

“They haven’t even contacted me about what I might be getting or settlements or claims, what I’m getting, what I’m not getting. I’m out in the open. I know one thing, I paid them for 40 years,” Fusco said on Thursday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called approval of the flood insurance money just a down payment. They want the remaining $51 billion passed quickly, saying it is instrumental to the region’s long-term recovery.

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