WASHINGTON - Calling it an early Christmas gift of hope for those recovering from Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today applauded the U.S. Senate's approval to bring the proposed $60.4 billion Sandy Relief Package up for debate with a vote of 91-1.

"It is my hope that today's progress on the Sandy Relief Package gives some comfort to the thousands of people in New Jersey who continue to bravely rebuild after Superstorm Sandy," said Senator Menendez. "There's much work that remains to be done, but today we took a step toward greatly accelerating the recovery. As we look forward to debating and voting upon the Sandy Relief Package next week, I have even greater resolve to fight for the resources we need to fully recover from the storm."

Today's motion to invoke cloture received 91 votes, an indication that the body will pass the legislation next week when consideration of the bill resumes on Thursday.

In the weeks since Superstorm Sandy struck, Senator Menendez has worked tirelessly on behalf of New Jersayans affect by the storm. During the past week in Washington, Sen. Menendez spoke on the Senate floor using photos and other visual aids to fully represent the extent of the storm damage in New Jersey. He later rejected a Republican proposal to take an underfunded, piecemeal approach to Sandy recovery. Yesterday, Sen. Menendez convened a hearing of the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development Subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee to focus on the importance of the $60.4 billion Sandy Relief Package to restoring housing and transit systems affected by the storm.