$60 billion aid package for Sandy approved

The US Senate has approved a $US60.4 billion ($NZ73.7b) aid package to pay for reconstruction costs from Superstorm Sandy, after defeating Republican efforts to trim the bill's cost.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid urged the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to quickly take up the bill.

Both chambers have to agreed on a package by Jan 2, when the current term of Congress is expected to end, or restart the process of crafting legislation in 2013.

The bill's chance s in the next few days could depend on whether President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reach a deal to avert t he "fiscal cliff" of t ax in creases a nd spending cuts set to beg in kicking in the new year.

Republicans complain the $60.4 billion reconstruction package requested by Obama is more than the annual budgets for the departments of Interior, Labor, Treasury and Transportation combined. They have urged a slower relief approach based on a co ngressional assessment of needs.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated about $8.97 billion of the S enate bill would be spent in 2013, with another $12.66 billion spent in 2014 and $11.59 billion spent in 2015

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