After a few stumbles and a lot of arguing, the House of Representatives approved $50.7 billion in emergency aid to areas decimated by Hurricane Sandy on Monday night. The winning side of the 241 to 180 vote included nearly all of the House Democrats and 49 Republicans, many of whom represent the damaged areas. The final package actually made it through in two separate pieces, though: the initial bill that includes $17 billion in immediate aid and an amendment with $33.6 billion in longer-term funding. (As The Washington Post's Rosalind Helderman explains, "Splitting the bill into two pieces allowed Republicans who wanted to provide immediate help to be able to withhold their votes from the long-term effort.") It's not the perfect outcome for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who requested nearly $80 billion in aid, but it's better than nothing. And it only took Congress 78 days since the disaster to get it done!
This could've been settled two weeks ago, when many New York and New Jersey lawmakers thought they would be voting on a Sandy relief package. However, without warning or explanation, House Speaker John Boehner delayed the vote which was expected to take place after the fiscal cliff vote , drawing ire from both sides of the aisle. At that point in time, action was already well overdue. It took Congress 31 days to approve aid after Hurricane Andrew and just 10 days to approve relief for Hurricane Katrina victims.