U.S. Congress passes 50.5-bln-USD Sandy relief

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WASHINGTON. January 29. KAZINFORM The U.S. Senate on Monday passed the 50.5-billion-dollar relief bill for Superstorm Sandy, sending it to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature.

The bill, which passed the upper chamber with a 62-36 vote, was geared toward providing relief for residents and businesses in states affected by Sandy, which struck the U.S. mainland late last year. The bill would also pay for state and local governments' rebuilding projects stemming from the storm.

The bill includes 16 billion in Community Development Block Grant money critical for rebuilding, 10.9 billion for public transportation projects, and 13 billion to safeguard the Northeast against another storm, Xinhua informs.

The House passed the bill on Jan. 15, after being criticized for reacting too slow to the needs of those affected by the storm, who Northeastern lawmakers said desperately need the money.

The bill was met with resistance in both chambers from budget hawks, who tried to offset the spending with cuts to other programs, in order not to increase federal deficit.

The vote brings the total relief amount approved by Congress for Sandy aid to 60.2 billion. That includes 9.7 billion that the House and Senate approved on Jan. 4 to pay flood insurance claims related to the storm.

Sandy made landfall in New Jersey in late October, causing widespread damage in 24 states, killing over 100 people and causing at least 60 billion dollars of damage.

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