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House Nears Delayed Vote On Superstorm Sandy Aid

The governors said they "anticipate smooth passage when this package moves back to the Senate for final approval and for this long-awaited relief to finally make its way to our residents."

The Senate approved a $60 billion measure in the final days of the Congress that expired on Jan. 3, and a House vote had been expected quickly.

It is highly unusual for a majority party to bring legislation to a vote that its own rank-and-file opposes, but in this case, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and the leadership had little or no choice.

Boehner unexpectedly postponed the vote in the final hours of the expiring Congress as he struggled to calm conservatives unhappy that the House had just approved a separate measure raising tax rates on the wealthy.

The delay drew a torrent of criticism, much of it from other Republicans.

"There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims, the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on the day after the delay was announced. Rep. Pete King of New York added that campaign donors in the Northeast who give to Republicans "should have their head examined."

Less than two weeks later, the leadership brought legislation to the floor under ground rules designed to satisfy as many Republicans as possible while retaining support from Democrats eager to approve as much in disaster aid as possible.

Across the capitol, majority Democrats indicated they would probably not seek changes.

"While the House bill is not quite as good as the Senate bill, it is certainly close enough," Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said. "We will be urging the Senate to speedily pass the House bill and send it to the president's desk."

Congress has already approved a $9.7 billion increase in a fund to pay federal flood insurance claims, much of it expected to benefit victims of Sandy.

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