The U.S. Senate narrowly approved a $50.5 billion federal aid bill for New York and neighboring states three months after they sustained the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.
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The bill passed Monday night by a vote of 62-36, just beyond the 60-vote minimum required for approval in the Senate, with Democrats unanimously voting in favor of the legislation. President Obama must now sign the bill.
Though most Commack residents made it through the storm unscathed, the area still saw its share of damage. The high school's 9/11 memorial took a beating when Sandy's powerful winds kicked up a soccer goal post onto one of the benches, causing it to snap. Homes and businesses were powerless for days as trees and powerlines came down and a gas shortage plagued Long Islanders everywhere.
Due to its location, the area also served as a safe haven for Long Islanders whose homes had been either evacuated or destroyed. Hundreds of Long Islanders found their way to the doors of the Suffolk County office buildings in Hauppauge each day, where the Red Cross temporarily set up beds and shelter for the storm's victims.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who held a press conference in Point Lookout on Sunday about the legislation and the specific projects the funds provides to storm-damaged communities from the New Jersey Shore to Long Beach to Montauk, said after Monday’s vote:
"At long last, relief is now coming to our homeowners who need to rebuild, small businesses who are trying to reopen, and communities that have laid out billions of dollars for repairs after the storm.”
Before the vote, Sen. Michael Lee, a Republican from Utah, called for an amendment to institute a percent federal spending cut to the forthcoming nine years to pay for the Sandy aid, but both Democrats and Republicans rejected it by a 62-35 vote, according to Newsday.
Along with Congress’s approval of $9.7 billion bill for national flood insurance claims that was approved Jan. 4, the $50.7 billion legislation will deliver about $60 billion in aid that Obama requested Dec. 7.