Rejecting conservative opposition, Congress approved a $9.7 billion aid package for victims of super storm Sandy on Friday after a near mutiny by East Coast Republicans against House Speaker John Boehner.
The measure to pay flood insurance about 115,000 pending claims was approved in the House by 354 to 67. All the no votes were Republican. The Senate passed it later by unanimous agreement.
The aid amounts to just a down payment on a multibillion-dollar aid commitment, boosting prospects for relief for the many home and business owners devastated by the storm.
"It's the right step," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that the National Flood Insurance Program will run out of money next week if Congress didn't provide additional borrowing authority to pay out claims. Congress created the FEMA-run program in 1968 because few private insurers cover flood damage.