The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a measure providing $51 billion in relief and recovery aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms ever to hit the U.S. northeast.
House members voted 241 to 180 late Tuesday to provide the disaster relief, which will go in part to repair transit systems, highways and housing in the states of New York and New Jersey.
Passage of the bill came about two weeks after House Speaker John Boehner sparked a public uproar by putting off a vote on a similar measure already approved by the U.S. Senate. Critics said Boehner's move would further delay aid to storm victims who have been waiting for assistance since Sandy made landfall on the East Coast October 29.
The new legislation must now go to the Senate, where it is expected to be passed and sent on to President Barack Obama.
After publicly criticizing the delay in early January, the Democratic governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, and the Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, issued a joint statement Tuesday praising passage of the bill. They said the tradition of providing support for Americans in times of crisis lives on.
Critics of the bill had argued that Congress should pass more spending cuts in other areas to offset the cost of the aid.
Hurricane Sandy was the costliest natural disaster in the United States since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005.