WASHINGTON -- The Senate will seek to hold a final vote Friday on the Democrats' $60.4 billion superstorm Sandy relief bill once lawmakers finish considering proposed amendments, including a Republican alternative to cut the aid to $23.8 billion.
Debate began Thursday night on many of the 21 amendments, which include both additions and subtractions of funding, in a bid to finally complete work on the aid package primarily for New York and the Northeast slammed by Sandy.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that amendments that require voice votes would be voted on Thursday night. But he said those requiring roll call votes would be held for Friday.
Democrats said they hope to hold a final vote on the aid bill at the end of the day.
If passed, as Democrats say they expect it will be, the Sandy aid bill would go to the Republican-controlled House, which reconvenes Sunday in anticipation of a deal to avert fall out from the "fiscal cliff."
Democrats concede the bill faces a tough road there.
Senate Republicans opened the debate Thursday afternoon by pushing for their streamlined aid bill, which they said would meet emergency needs and leave funding for longer-term needs to vetting by appropriate committees next year.
"We think the most important thing we can do is provide emergency funding for those who need it for the next three months," said Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), the alternate bill's chief sponsor. "We are not saying this is the end-all or be-all for superstorm Sandy."
Coats said his bill strips out all mitigation projects to prepare for future storms and all money for other disasters in other parts of the country that are not related to Sandy.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said New York and the Northeast need all of the funding now for planning the recovery and rebuilding.