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WASHINGTON -- The superstorm Sandy $60 billion disaster aid package won new life Wednesday after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised a quick set of votes on the funding in a meeting with angry Republican lawmakers from New York and New Jersey.
Boehner told a handful of GOP House members from both states that he would hold a vote on Friday on $9 billion in funding needed for federal flood insurance and another set of votes on Jan. 15 on the remaining $51 billion, said Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
"We have the leadership's commitment," said King, who looked grim and determined as he entered Boehner's Capitol building office for what turned out to be a short meeting with Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
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Smiling afterward, King downplayed the blistering attack he, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other lawmakers had leveled at Boehner earlier Wednesday, accusing Boehner of taking an indefensible and immoral step when he pulled the plug on a vote on the bill Tuesday night.
Asked why Boehner said he had pulled the vote, King said, "The speaker had made the decision that with what was going on with the fiscal cliff it wasn't the right time to bring it up. We agreed to disagree. Obviously we made our position clear last night."
But he added, "That's in the past. What's important, as far as I'm concerned, we got the absolute commitment to bring the whole $60 billion beginning on Friday and concluding on Jan. 15."
The vote Friday on $9 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program would be the first step under Boehner's plan, a necessary step as FEMA announced Wednesday that funds available for those making claims will be used up by next week.
The remaining $51 billion will come up on the House floor on Jan. 15, where it will be split into an $18 billion bill and a $33 billion amendment, as had been planned for the vote that King and other House members had thought would be Wednesday.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) responded in a statement: "While it would have been far better had they passed the Senate's bill today, at least this provides a path to produce the needed $60 billion for New York and New Jersey by the end of the month."