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Obama says he’ll sign $50.5B Sandy aid bill soon

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said he'll sign a $50.5 billion emergency relief measure for Superstorm Sandy victims as soon as it lands on his desk.

Three months after Sandy ravaged coastal areas in much of the Northeast, Obama chided lawmakers for taking their time to approve the funding even as he commended them for providing the long-awaited aid.

"So while I had hoped Congress would provide this aid sooner, I applaud the lawmakers from both parties who helped shepherd this important package though," Obama said in a statement late Monday.

Despite opposition from conservatives concerned about adding billions of dollars to the nation's debt, the Senate cleared the bill, 62-36, after House Republicans had stripped it earlier this month of spending unrelated to disasters.

"This is a huge relief," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Northeast lawmakers said the money is urgently needed to start rebuilding homes, businesses, public transportation facilities and other infrastructure damaged by the Oct. 29 storm, one of the worst to strike the Northeast. Sandy is blamed for more than 130 deaths in the U.S. and tens of billions of dollars in property damages, particularly in New York and New Jersey.

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