Churches, synagogues, and mosques damaged during Superstorm Sandy will be allowed to file for federal disaster aid under a bill approved by the House of Representatives.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday 354-72 in favor of the bill, which will now go to the Senate for final approval.
Under the measure, houses of worship would be added to the federal government's list of private nonprofit organizations eligible for FEMA aid to help rebuild.
The bill's supporters said hundreds of worship centers continued to serve their communities, providing such help as food and shelter -- despite suffering damage from the storm.
Critics said it goes against the constitutional separation of church and state.
More than $11 billion had been ticketed for FEMA's disaster relief fund in the overall $50.5 billion Sandy aid package that President Barack Obama signed into law last month.