Here's Why Today's Sandy Relief Vote Matters

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Update 11:21 a.m.: The final tally had 67 GOP members voting against the bill. One of the most notable no's was one-time vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan. That's notable because, well, yes he's coming off the election loss but Ryan made a lot of money in New York while on the campaign trail. Rep. Peter King said this week that New York and New Jersey donors should withhold money from Republicans who vote against the measure. The full breakdown can be found here. Despite tongue-lashings and public shaming from legislators like Rep. Peter King and Governor Chris Christie, there was still GOP opposition to the bill which is intended to give some $9.7 billion in aid to those filing Sandy insurance claims. 

Original: The House of Representatives has passed a $9.7 billion measure to help pay for Sandy flood insurance claims today. The measure obviously isn't as massive as the $51 billion bill that's scheduled for a vote on January 15, but it still matters. Here's why:

First and foremost, people are still waiting to get paid. Today's bill deals with insurance claims and home and business owners in the Northeast have been waiting for their checks from the October 29 storm. Those people are "sleeping in rented rooms on cots somewhere and they're not happy. They want to get their lives back on track and it's cold outside. They see no prospect of relief." Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), is quoted as saying in a report from the AP.

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And getting money to those people won't happen if the National Flood Insurance program runs out of money—which FEMA has warned will happen next week if Congress doesn't act.  Reuters reported on Thursday:

FEMA has told Congress that unless its borrowing ceiling was raised , "funds available to pay claims will be exhausted sometime around the week of January 7, 2013," the agency said in a one-sentence statement.

If/when the bill passes (does anyone really want to face the wrath of Rep. Peter King and Governor Chris Christie again? Mr. Boehner?), the AP reports that the Senate "follow with a likely uncontested vote later in the day. And we'll be one step closer to get this very important insurance money to people who need it. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.