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House approves $50.5 billion in Sandy aid (+video)

Congress has voted over $50 billion in aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. 192 Democrats joined 49 Republicans in support of the bill, while 179 Republicans and one Democrat voted against it.

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More than 10 weeks after Superstorm Sandy hit, the House approved $50.5 billion in emergency relief for the victims. The vote came Tuesday night, as Republican leaders struggled to close out an episode that exposed painful party divisions inside Congress and out.

The vote was 241-180, and officials said the Senate was likely to accept the measure early next week and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature. Democrats supported the aid in large numbers, while Republicans opposed it by a lopsided margin.

"We are not crying wolf here," said Rep. Chris Smith (R) of New Jersey, one of a group of Northeastern lawmakers from both parties working for House passage of legislation roughly in line with what the Obama administration and governors of the affected states have sought.

Democrats were more politically pointed as they brushed back Southern conservatives who sought either to reduce the measure or offset part of its cost through spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

"I just plead with my colleagues not to have a double standard," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York. "Not to vote tornado relief to Alabama, to Louisiana, to Mississippi, Missouri, to — with Ike, Gustav, Katrina, Rita — but when it comes to the Northeast, with the second worst storm in the history of our country, to delay, delay, delay."

One key vote: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R) of New Jersey moved to add $33.5 billion to an original allotment of $17 billion in aid. That roll call was 228-192 and Democrats broke 190-2 in favor, while Republicans opposed it overwhelmingly, 190-38.

Similarly, on final passage, 192 Democrats joined 49 Republicans in support. Opposed were 179 Republicans and one Democrat.

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