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Refusal to Vote on Sandy Relief Draws Criticism

U.S. Congressman James R. Langevin (D-RI) and U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) expressed disbelief today that the House Republican leadership continues to hold firm in its insistence not to vote on Hurricane Sandy recovery funds in the current Congress despite pleas from both parties to act. The House adjourned for today without taking any votes.

Langevin and Cicilline have called for a vote on Senate-passed legislation that would approve $60.4 billion in Hurricane Sandy recovery funds to go toward rebuilding infrastructure, fisheries and other severely damaged property, as well as providing small business assistance. Without a vote by noon tomorrow, the process for passing this legislation would need to start over once the 113th Congress convenes.

"We're astonished by the lack of urgency from Speaker Boehner and his leadership team to address Sandy relief," said Langevin and Cicilline. "Clear bipartisan support exists in both chambers to give affected states the resources they need to rebuild and recover, and every day we wait adds to the burden of the people most impacted by this devastating storm, from the Jersey Shore and New York City up to the coasts of Washington, Newport and Bristol Counties.

"Failure to act quickly in a situation where Congress has an obvious and vital role does not bode well for what are sure to be more contentious debates over the budget in the months to come. We will continue to press for a vote by tomorrow morning, before the new Congress begins, to avoid delay."

Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States during the last week of October 2012. Langevin and Cicilline joined U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in a letter urging President Obama to expedite the approval of emergency relief for Rhode Island. Three days later, Obama authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide emergency aid to Rhode Island to assist in state and local response efforts.

The U.S. Senate approved a $60.4 billion emergency supplemental package for Hurricane Sandy recovery work last Friday, with the measure passing by a bipartisan vote of 62 to 32.

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