WASHINGTON ­- Following his several floor speeches to fend off Republican attempts to substantially cut Superstorm Sandy disaster aid, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez today lauded the passage of the $60.4 billion Sandy Relief Package with a vote of 61-33.

Following today's vote, Senator Menendez called upon members of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the legislation when they convene on Sunday.

"On behalf of the thousands of courageous Superstorm Sandy survivors who continue to work toward rebuilding and recovery, I express my deepest gratitude to my colleagues who voted in favor of this Sandy Relief Package," said Senator Menendez. "This is a great step forward, but our work is not yet done. I call upon members of the House to pass this critical legislation quickly when they return on Sunday. This is not a partisan matter, nor is it limited to just the Northeast. Passage of Sandy Relief is of great national concern. It's vital to our economic vitality and American integrity. Today, the majority of U.S. Senators acted on the belief that we are the United States of America, and I strongly urge House members to act on the same principle as soon as possible. Since this disaster relief package has been well known for some time now, I believe the House should pass the bill. I urge Governor Christie to call upon the Speaker and the leadership of the House of Representatives to take up the bill and pass it upon their return this Sunday."

The Sandy Relief Package passed today includes the following provisions:

  • $17 Billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): This flexible block grant program will allow the state and localities to get aid where it is needed most. Possible uses include, but are not limited to, grants to small businesses, helping homeowners rebuild flooded properties at a higher elevation, and utility ratepayer relief.
  • $5.35 Billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: This funding is critical to rebuild New Jersey's weakened coastal defenses. This will allow Jersey Shore residents and businesses to know we will be better protected from storms than ever before.
  • $12 Billion to Restore Transportation Systems: This funding will allow NJ Transit to repair extensive damage from the storm and could allow the agency to build a facility on higher ground to prevent future flooding damage. Port Authority will also be able to permanently repair the PATH station and harden some electrical equipment to prevent future damage. In addition, NJDOT will be able to elevate some roads that were washed away by Sandy.
  • Important Policy Reforms to Streamline Recovery Efforts: Following Hurricane Katrina, states struggled with cumbersome disaster recovery laws. Reforms would improve the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Public Assistance programs to allow rebuilding to be stronger than what was in place before the storm, provide third party dispute resolution process for major projects, and allow for coverage of child care costs related to disaster recovery through FEMA individual assistance.

Superstorm Sandy struck New Jersey on Oct. 29. Since then, Senator Menendez has been relentless in his efforts to help those recovering from the storm.

Last night, Senator Menendez gave an impassioned appeal to his colleagues from the Senate floor urging for the passage of Sandy relief. It was the third floor speech Senator Menendez gave in 10 days pushing for the legislation.

Senator Menendez also called out Republicans who attempted to make significant cuts to the bill and who promoted a piecemeal approach to Sandy Recovery.

Last week, Senator 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.

Just after the Obama Administration requested a $60.4 billion Sandy Relief Package, Senator Menendez led a delegation of his Senate colleagues through storm-affected areas in New Jersey.