House passes $50.7B bill for hurricane reliefBy GERRY SHIELDS
New York Post
January 16, 2013
WASHINGTON — Devastated Hurricane Sandy victims moved one step closer to getting desperately needed federal aid after the House yesterday approved $50.7 billion in disaster relief.
“Tonight’s vote to provide . . . Hurricane Sandy relief was an outstanding victory for the people of New York, New Jersey and Long Island,” said Rep. Peter King (R-LI).
“It is unfortunate that we had to fight so hard to be treated the same as every other state has been treated.”
The Sandy legislation passed, 241-180, after House Democrats beat back a Republican measure requiring that the money be paid for by cuts to other areas of the federal budget.
“This bill should have never been tied up in political gamesmanship, but the wait is over and a much-needed hand will now be extended to communities, families and small businesses devastated by Hurricane Sandy,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens).
While 49 Republicans voted for the bill, New York delegation members were stunned that 179 Republicans voted against it.
“It’s a sad comment there were 180 votes on a bill that should’ve been a no-brainer and gotten zero no votes,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan).
The Democratic-run Senate is expected to take up the House bill next week.
“We will be urging the Senate to speedily pass the House bill and send it to the president’s desk,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, (D-NY).
The House bill provides $11.4 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and $16 billion for Community Development Block Grants deemed critical to repairing houses wrecked in October’s storm.
Also included is $10.9 billion to repair the transit system and $520 million for small-business disaster loans.
Critics blasted the bill for containing non-Sandy-related funding including $16 billion for a Community Development Fund for disaster relief to 47 states, and $2 billion for the national highway system, and another $200 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-SI), said, “This funding will never make up for the loss and devastation that was felt by so many throughout Staten Island and the region but it can help restore some semblance of normality to lives that have been turned upside down.”
The measure – an extraordinary gift to Big Labor – has already passed the Democratic run state Senate and is expected to be approved by the Assembly. State Senate President Steven Sweeney, an ironworker, offered the legislation what would allow governments to require using only union workers when hiring contractors.
In an interesting twist, GOP Gov. Chris Christie declined to comment on whether he would sign of veto the bill. Though he is a Republican, Christie has close ties to the building trade unions. Last month, the Laborer’s International Union of America endorsed Christie, making his decision potentially politically perilous.