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U.S. Senate Passes Superstorm Aid

The U.S. Congress has completed action on a $50.5 billion package of emergency relief for the victims of Superstorm Sandy, three months after the storm severely damaged the New York and New Jersey coastlines.

Members of the Senate approved the bill Monday by a vote of 62 to 36. The House passed the legislation earlier this month, and President Barack Obama has promised to sign it as soon as it reaches his desk.

Discussions about aid for one of the worst storms ever to hit the U.S. northeast have been complicated by the nation's poor economic situation. An aid package was up for a vote in the House in early January, but members failed to vote on it because of disputes over spending. When new members of Congress were sworn in a few days later, negotiations on storm aid had to start over again.

The delay in the Republican-controlled House triggered criticism from Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

They both said their constituents, many of whom lost their homes, had waited too long already for emergency aid.

The aid process for victims of Sandy stands in sharp contrast to that of victims of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005. Critics note that members of Congress passed aid legislation for Katrina victims within 11 days of the storm, while aid for Sandy has taken more than 90 days.

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