UPDATE: House passes $9.7 billion Sandy relief package - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: House passes $9.7 billion Sandy relief package

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKOW) -- Congress on Friday passed a $9.7 billion Superstorm Sandy relief package to help pay flood insurance claims to homeowners, renters and businesses damaged by the storm.

The vote was to replenishes the National Flood Insurance Program that was due to run out of money next week with some 115,000 Sandy-related claims, as well as 5,000 from other floods, unresolved.

The governors of New Jersey and New York, two states impacted by the storm, say the vote is a good start but they also want Congress to approve a much larger $51 billion package that's due for a vote January 15.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a joint statement in which they called Friday's vote "a down payment" on the full needs of their two states.

The late October storm ravaged the U.S. east coast from North Carolina to Maine, with some of the worst flooding occurring in New York City and Atlantic City, N.J.

The government already has spent more than $2 billion as part of the emergency response to the storm.

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WASHINGTON (WKOW) -- Many home and business owners affected by Superstorm Sandy could get insurance payouts soon.

The House votes on a bill today to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, will run out of money next week.

FEMA runs the National Flood Insurance Program and says 140,000 Sandy related flood insurance claims have been filed and most have yet to be closed out.

Many flood victims have only received partial payments on their claims. The House will vote on a $9.7 billion bill to give aid to victims. But, that's only a fraction of the $60 billion in aid the Senate has approved.

The House adjourned earlier in the week before a vote, which set off a firestorm. WKOW reached out to Congressman Paul Ryan and Congressman Ron Kind about the issue. Congressman Ryan wasn't available for comment, but Congressman Kind says he was disappointed a vote did not take place earlier.

"There are certain people playing political games with disaster aid right now, which is really inexcusable when there is bi-partisan agreement up and down the coast that action needs to be taken," said Congressman Kind.

More than $2 billion in federal money has been spent on relief efforts for 11 states and the District of Columbia.

Superstorm Sandy was the most costly natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Some lawmakers wonder why it took just 10 days for Congress to approve about $50 billion in aid for Katrina, but that it hasn't provided aid for Sandy relief in more than two months.

The House is expected to vote on January 15 on another $51 billion measure in relief funds.

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