The House has overwhelmingly approved $9.7 billion to pay flood insurance claims for the many home and business owners flooded out by Superstorm Sandy.

 

Mark Wilson, Getty Images

 

6th District Congressman Frank Pallone speaks on the House floor about the Sandy aid package (CSPAN)

The vote came more than two months after the storm hit and days after Northeast Republicans erupted over House Speaker John Boehner's decision to delay an earlier vote.

Friday's 354-67 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which expects to pass the bill later in the day. All of the no votes were cast by Republicans.

The bill gives more borrowing authority to the National Flood Insurance Program to pay about 115,000 pending claims.

Northeast lawmakers say the money is urgently needed for victims of one of the worst storms ever to strike the region. Boehner set Friday's vote after sparking controversy with a decision to delay House action on a broader Sandy aid package.

REACTION TO THE VOTE

Rep. Scott Garrett on the House floor (CSPAN)

7th District Representative Leonard Lance praised the vote and credited fellow New Jersey rep Scott Garrett's efforts. "I applaud Congressman Scott Garrett for moving quickly and crafting legislation that will replenish the National Flood Insurance Program and avert a delay in payment on about 115,000 claims," said Lance.

“I am pleased that the House of Representatives has finally taken this important first step to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy," said 3rd Cogressional Republican Jon Runyan about the vote, expressing hope that the second part of the bill will pass when it comes up for a vote on January 15.

Frank LoBiondo (R) of New Jersey's First Congressional district, who was vocal in his disappointment in the delayed vote, said in a statement, “This week’s events make it clear that the need for help is real and that any additional delays in providing federal aid will be met with fierce resistance from myself, members of the delegation, and Governor Christie. I hope my colleagues recognize politics has no place when dealing with a disaster and that the overwhelming bipartisan support demonstrated today is present as the remaining federal aid is considered,” said LoBiondo.

Two other storm bills, to be taken up on January 15, will add an additional $18 billion for immediate assistance and $33 billion for longer-term projects, bringing the total to $60 billion and matching the amount approved by the Senate last Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story