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It took Congress three months to sign off on federal aid for Hurricane Sandy victims, but Gov. Chris Christie said federal officials approved $60 billion in aid within just 10 days of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
And that Katrina aid was authorized without members of Congress even casting roll call votes, according to the Republican governor.
In between pulling doughnuts out of his pockets, Christie offered that background during his appearance Monday on the "Late Show with David Letterman." The late-night host questioned whether the delay in securing Sandy aid could have happened at any point.
"It didn’t happen eight years ago," Christie told Letterman. "I mean, in Katrina, they approved $60 billion within 10 days of the storm on a voice vote."
The governor’s right that about $60 billion in emergency aid was approved in the 10 days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, but Christie is wrong to claim all of that money was approved "on a voice vote."
In a voice vote, members of Congress just shout out "yea" or "nay" without their individual votes being recorded. But contrary to what Christie said, most of that roughly $60 billion was approved by way of recorded votes.
The governor’s office did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Let’s explain the different sets of votes on the Katrina aid.
As we confirmed in a previous fact-check, the Republican-controlled Congress approved two bills providing $62.3 billion in emergency funding in the 10 days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall on Aug. 29, 2005, near Buras, La.
On Sept. 2, 2005, Congress passed a bill to provide $10.5 billion in emergency aid related to damage caused by Katrina.
The House approved that bill by a voice vote, and the Senate approved the legislation by "unanimous consent." Under unanimous consent, there is no recorded vote and the bill is considered approved if no one objects.
But on Sept. 8, 2005, when Congress approved an additional $51.8 billion in emergency appropriations for Katrina victims, both chambers held recorded votes on the legislation.
The bill passed in the House by a 410-11 vote and in the Senate by 97-0. Twelve House members and three senators did not cast ballots on the measure.
So, although the first bill was approved without any recorded votes, the second bill -- which provided most of the $62.3 billion in funding -- was passed by recorded votes.
But just as Christie said, securing federal approval for Sandy aid took much longer.
Three months after Hurricane Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, President Barack Obama signed a bill on Jan. 29 to provide about $50 billion in emergency appropriations. The GOP-controlled House had approved the bill on Jan. 15, and the Democrat-led Senate passed it on Jan. 28.
Earlier in January, the president signed a bill providing $9.7 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program to assist Sandy victims.
During his appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman," Christie claimed that "in Katrina, they approved $60 billion within 10 days of the storm on a voice vote."
But all of that funding was not approved by federal officials shouting "yea" or "nay" on the House and Senate floors. Congress signed off on $10.5 billion in Katrina aid without recorded votes, but the remaining $51.8 billion was approved by recorded votes.
Still, the governor’s overall point is solid. While Hurricane Sandy victims waited three months for federal aid to be approved, Congress had authorized $62.3 billion in the 10 days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana.
We rate the statement Half True.
To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.
YouTube, Governor Christie On The Late Show With David Letterman, Feb. 4, 2013
PolitiFact New Jersey, With Hurricane Sandy aid still pending, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez says $60 billion was approved 10 days after Hurricane Katrina, Jan. 3, 2013
THOMAS, H.R. 3645 - Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs Arising From the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina, 2005, enacted Sept. 2, 2005
THOMAS, H.R. 3673 - Second Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs Arising From the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina, 2005, enacted Sept. 8, 2005
Congressional Research Service, House Voting Procedures: Forms and Requirements, May 19, 2008
Congressional Research Service, The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction, Nov. 7, 2012
Congressional Research Service, The Legislative Process on the Senate Floor: An Introduction, Nov. 28, 2012
U.S. Government Printing Office, House Practice: A Guide to the Rules, Precedents and Procedures of the House, accessed Feb. 5, 2013
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