The U.S. House of Representatives has scheduled two votes on disaster aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy after coming under strong criticism for ending its current session without approving the funds.
New York Republican Congressman Peter King said the House will vote Friday on an initial $9 billion in aid, followed by another vote on January 15 for an additional $51 billion. Both votes will come during the new Congress, which will be sworn in Thursday.
King spoke to reporters after meeting with House Speaker John Boehner.
Earlier Wednesday, a furious King lashed out at his fellow Republicans for ending their session without first approving aid, telling lawmakers that it was inexcusable and indefensible.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, also a Republican, called House inaction disgusting. In the Senate, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is stunned, dismayed. and saddened.
President Barack Obama had been urging House Republicans to vote on disaster aid. He said that when tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need. He said he worked with governors of the affected states and sent Congress an urgent request for aid. The Senate approved more than $60 billion in aid last week.
Superstorm Sandy pummeled the U.S. east coast in October, killing at least 125 people and destroying thousands of homes, causing billions of dollars in damage.
"We have a moral obligation to hold this vote," said King. "The people who are out of their homes. The people who are cold. The people who are without food. The people who have lost their jobs. They don't have the time to wait."
"To ignore the plight of millions of American citizens [[is]] unprecedented, disgusting, unworthy of the leadership of this House. They should reconsider or they should hang their heads in shame."
"Many of these towns are waiting for the money to come through to provide funding for municipal services, for emergency services," said Congressman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat. "Many of them are completely broke at this time in terms of their ability to provide help for their residents. This is a very serious matter. This need is immediate."