By Jonathan Easley - 01/08/13 09:37 PM EST
Last week, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) agreed to hold two votes on Hurricane Sandy aid after taking fire from New York and New Jersey Republicans for his decision to pull the bills on the last day of the 112th Congress.
The vote was reportedly delayed because Boehner thought the GOP conference, angered over passing a “fiscal cliff” bill without spending cuts, was not ready to vote on a costly emergency-spending measure.
But in the face of withering criticism from lawmakers whose constituents were affected by the devastating storm, Boehner scheduled votes on the relief measures.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which takes on $9.7 billion in new debt, passed on Friday in a 354-67 vote and was signed by President Obama on Sunday.
The only "no" votes came from Republicans, including House Budget Committee chairman and former vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who said Washington should not be taking on new debt.
The bill provided a short-term rise in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) borrowing limit to allow it to pay flood insurance claims from Sandy.
GOP lawmakers opposed to the measure, though, say the federal government should not be involved in the flood insurance industry, letting the private market provide coverage. Supporters argue that private insurers cannot provide coverage at affordable rates.
Boehner has promised a Jan. 15 vote on a second bill that could provide an additional $51 billion in Sandy aid.