A volunteer from Gulfport, Miss., loads a bulldozer with debris that was caused by Hurricane Sandy during relief efforts in Staten Island, N.Y., ahead of a forecasted storm.(Photo: Martin Cuaron, AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- The House returned to work Sunday afternoon but had no
plans to vote on a Senate-passed disaster relief bill for Superstorm
The Senate voted 62-32 on Friday to pass a $60.4
billion aid bill after two days of debate. Twelve Republicans voted for
The House has until Jan. 3, when the 113th Congress is sworn in, to act on the measure. Otherwise, work on it must begin anew.
best way to handle it is to just pass the Senate bill," said Democratic
Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, whose oceanfront district sustained
major damage during the Oct. 29 storm.
Pallone and other New
Jersey lawmakers returned to Washington on Sunday intent on pressing
Republican leadership and other lawmakers to back the Sandy relief bill.
Washington is focused on negotiating an elusive deal to avoid the
"fiscal cliff" of tax increases and spending reductions set to hit Jan.
And support for the Sandy bill among House Republicans is uncertain.
Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky and other
conservatives are calling for a much smaller bill to cover only the most
urgent needs, putting off until 2013 legislation to address long-term
needs such as protecting beaches and transportation networks from
"The problem is that later never comes," Pallone said.
Senate amendment from Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats would have
reduced the aid package to just $24 billion. It was defeated on a
"These arguments that are being used to divide it
up make no sense," Pallone said. "If we don't do it now, then it
becomes more difficult to do it later."
A spokesman for Republican
Rep. Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, said relief for Superstorm Sandy
victims doesn't have to come from the Senate-passed bill, as long as
Congress acts before adjourning Thursday.
"He's talking to the House leadership about this," LoBiondo spokesman Jason Galanes said. "We have time to get this done."