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Senate passes $50.5 billion in Sandy funds

The Senate Monday night passed a $50.5 billion emergency spending bill to aid people in New York and New Jersey who are trying to rebuild their homes and businesses after last October’s devastation from super-storm Sandy.

The vote was 62 to 36, with 60 votes needed for passage.

Before approving the spending bill, the Senate defeated, 62 to 35, an amendment by Sen. Mike Lee, R- Utah, that would have offset the new Sandy outlays by reducing discretionary spending (including defense) by 0.5 percent over the next nine years.

The House had passed the Sandy spending bill two weeks ago. But the House action had come only after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and House members from the Northeast harshly criticized Speaker John Boehner for not allowing a vote on a Sandy relief bill on New Years’ Eve.

Congress has already passed $9.7 billion in additional borrowing authority for the National Flood Insurance Program to help pay Sandy claims from homeowners in New York and New Jersey.