Votes were scheduled after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other lawmakers ripped into House Speaker John Boehner and GOP.
After a day of withering criticism, House Speaker John Boehner told New York and New Jersey lawmakers the GOP-led House will vote Friday on $9 billion in flood insurance for states ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.
More action on emergency relief aid, which is expected to total about $60 billion, has been scheduled for Jan. 15.
"Getting critical aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy should be the first priority in the new Congress, and that was reaffirmed today with members of the New York and New Jersey delegation," Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said in a joint statement.
The GOP leaders gave assurances to the New York and New Jersey lawmakers on the timing of the votes after a meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Throughout the day, there was anger and fury from Northeastern politicians — and even some Southerners such as Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. — about the delay in Sandy aid.
In a rare display of unity, President Obama and members of both parties lashed out at Boehner and the majority Republicans for skipping a vote on federal aid.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, blamed the "toxic" nature of Congress and "palace intrigue" in Washington for the failure to help people 66 days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in his state.
"There's only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: The House majority and their speaker, John Boehner," Christie said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Trenton, N.J. "Folks are putting politics ahead of their responsibilities. New Jerseyans and New Yorkers are tired of being treated like second-class citizens."
The House took no action on the disaster aid late Tuesday, even though Christie and other lawmakers said they got assurances from Boehner and Cantor that a vote would be held before the new year. Words like "betrayal," "disgraceful," and "knife in the back" had been used by Christie, Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., and other lawmakers throughout Wednesday.
President Obama spoke to both Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the day. They all agreed a quick vote was needed.
"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," Obama said in a statement, stressing that there are people who "need immediate support with the bulk of winter in front of us."
"When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to support those in need," the president said.
In a joint statement issued earlier Wednesday, Christie and Cuomo noted that the failure to come to the aid of natural disaster victims "is unprecedented."
Christie said victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 received an initial infusion of federal aid 10 days after that storm first hit and those affected by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 received a response from the federal government and Congress within 31 days.
When he learned there would be no House vote, Christie said he called Boehner four times and could not get the speaker on the phone. They spoke Wednesday but Christie said he did not receive any "credible reason" for the delay.
King said New York and New Jersey Republicans were told by Boehner that the timing wasn't right Tuesday for a vote on the disaster aid. At the time, tensions were high in the House as members dealt with a bill on the "fiscal cliff."
The Senate approved $60.4 billion in disaster aid last Friday to help New York, New Jersey and other states that were ravaged by the late October storm. The House Appropriations Committee had crafted a smaller, $27 billion Sandy aid bill.
More than $2 billion in federal funds has been spent so far on Sandy relief efforts. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund still has about $4.3 billion, enough to pay for recovery efforts into early spring, according to officials.
More than 125 people died as a result of Superstorm Sandy, which caused more than $60 billion in damage — much of it to communities along the Eastern Seaboard.
Some of the urgency stems from the way Congress works. With new lawmakers being sworn in Thursday, the legislative process begins anew in the 113th Congress. Plus, lawmakers aren't scheduled to work much in January because of Obama's inauguration and other scheduling details.
Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., expressed concern that a new Congress presents new hurdles.
"We did an enormous amount of leg work," LoBiondo said after meeting with Boehner and Cantor. "We knew that we needed a certain number of Republican votes and I believe we had exceeded that by our counts ... by a pretty wide margin. Now a lot of those people are not here, they just are not going to be in the next Congress."
King, who is finishing his 10th term in the House, would not say during a CNN interview on Wednesday morning whether he would vote for Boehner as speaker when the 113th Congress convenes on Thursday. King agreed to back Boehner following Wednesday's meeting.
Earlier in the day, King urged his fellow Republicans — who frequently raise campaign cash in New York City — to withhold their donations to the House GOP campaign committee as a sign of their outrage.
"Turning your back on people who are starving and freezing is not a Republican value," King said in the CNN interview.
Contributing: Associated Press