U.S. House approves portion of Sandy aid package - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

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Superstorm Sandy

U.S. House approves portion of Sandy aid package

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Lindenhurst on eastern Long Island on Wed., Nov. 7, 2012. (MyFoxNY) Lindenhurst on eastern Long Island on Wed., Nov. 7, 2012. (MyFoxNY)
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved $9.7 billion for flood insurance claims from Superstorm Sandy.

The vote came more than two months after the storm hit and days after local officials including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) erupted over House Speaker John Boehner's decision to delay an earlier vote.

Friday's 354-67 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which expects to pass the bill later in the day. All of the no votes were cast by Republicans.

The bill gives more borrowing authority to the National Flood Insurance Program to pay about 115,000 pending claims.

Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a joint statement about the vote.

"Today's action by the House was a necessary and critical first step towards delivering aid to the people of New York and New Jersey. While we are pleased with this progress, today was just a down payment and it is now time to go even further and pass the final and more complete, clean disaster aid bill," they said in the statement. "We are trusting Congress to act accordingly on January 15th and pass the final $51 billion instrumental for long-term rebuilding in order for New Jersey, New York and our people to recover after the severe devastation of Hurricane Sandy."

Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey blasted the vote, saying Congress shouldn't vote "piecemeal" on helping those in need.

Republican Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey said the measure is "critically important" to help the state recover and rebuild.

Fellow Republican John Runyan said the bill is an important first step to help storm victims.

A vote to put an additional $51 billion toward Sandy relief will take place Jan. 15.

Local lawmakers said the money is urgently needed for victims of one of the worst storms ever to strike the region.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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