Obama urges Congress pass Hurricane Sandy relief

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States (US) President Barack Obama called on Congress on Wednesday to approve billions of dollars in emergency relief aid for millions of people devastated by last year's Hurricane Sandy.

The Republican leadership walked off the House floor late on Tuesday signalling it will not bring a bill to a vote, infuriating Democratic and Republican legislators from East Coast states whose communities are counting on aid to rebuild and to assist families made homeless by the superstorm.

"Our citizens are still trying to put their lives back together. Our states are still trying to rebuild vital infrastructure," Mr Obama said in a statement, noting how we worked with local leaders like Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to come up with an "urgent" US$60 billion (S$73.3 billion) aid package.

"The Senate passed this request with bipartisan support. But the House of Representatives has refused to act, even as there are families and communities who still need our help to rebuild in the months and years ahead, and who also still need immediate support with the bulk of winter still in front of us," Mr Obama said.

When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need, Mr Obama added.

"I urge Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same, bring this important request to a vote today, and pass it without delay for our fellow Americans." If the House does not bass the aid relief by Thursday at noon, when the new Congress is sworn in, the legislation dies and would have to be re-introduced.