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Congress passes Sandy relief aid for flood insurance claims

Friday's flood insurance vote will be followed by a vote on Jan. 15 that covers the bulk of the $51 billion aid proposal.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walks through the US Capitol in Washington, DC, in December, to ask the White House and Congress for more federal dollars for Superstorm Sandy relief and repair. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Senate passed a bill providing partial relief for victims of superstorm Sandy on Friday, according to The Huffington Post.

Earlier in the day, the House voted to pass the aid package, voting 354 to 67 for the bill, the Washington Post reported.

The bill is a limited proposal, but is nonetheless the first major aid package for Sandy victims to be voted on. The $9.7 billion measure will pay flood insurance claims, the Guardian reported.

Hours before the vote, conservative group Club for Growth said it would punish any House members who approved the aid, arguing Congress "should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the national flood insurance program's authority," The Hill reported.

The vote came after House Speaker John Boehner had faced intense criticism for delaying the bill's passage. On Tuesday, Boehner halted a vote on a relief bill that would provide $60 billion in aid to the states ravaged by Sandy. Politicians in the Northeast were furious with Boehner for not acting on the bill.

On Wednesday afternoon, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke out against Boehner and the House majority in an angry press conference: "Shame on you. Shame on Congress," he said.

More from GlobalPost: Sandy Watch

After Christie's scathing speech, Boehner promised to bring the spending measure to the floor in two steps. Friday's flood insurance vote will be followed by a vote on Jan. 15 that covers the bulk of the proposal — $51 billion.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned that the National Flood Insurance Program would run out of money next week if Congress didn't approve the bill Friday, the Washington Post reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130104/sandy-relief-package-be-voted-congress-today