NY pols: Save our $andy billBy GERRY SHIELDS
New York Post
December 31, 2012
WASHINGTON — New York’s congressional delegation is scrambling to get a Hurricane Sandy aid package approved — before it all gets washed away.
The House has until Wednesday to green-light the $60.4 billion in disaster relief before the session expires for the year.
Last week, the Senate passed the package — providing relief funds for everything from housing to the subway system — by a 62-32 vote.
The legislation, which is on today’s House calendar, will likely get bumped off because of the focus on adopting measures by midnight to avoid the fiscal cliff, which could bring about tax hikes and automatic spending cuts.
That leaves only a day and half to call the Sandy bill up for a vote.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday that no decision has been made whether to take up the legislation.
If it is not approved, the process of drafting the legislation would have to begin all over again in the next Congress, which begins Thursday.
“The need for emergency disaster relief is beyond urgent,” said Rep. Michael Grimm (R-LI), whose district was pummeled by the October storm.
He and other New York House Republicans are pushing their leadership for an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill before Wednesday.
“To start from scratch in the next Congress will seriously jeopardize New York’s ability to rebuild, which is why we simply cannot afford to sit back and allow the clock to run out,” Grimm said.
The Senate legislation was approved after Democrats beat back a Republican amendment attempting to cut the support to $23.8 billion.
Still, some House Republicans have balked at the price of the Sandy relief.
Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has suggested breaking up the Sandy package into several measures.
But Rep. Peter King (R-LI) said yesterday that an up-or-down vote on the Senate-approved legislation by Wednesday was critical.
Starting over in the next session will hamper the recovery, he said.
“That’s brutal,” said King, who helps lead a caucus of House members whose states were affected by the storm.
The current legislation includes $11.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund and $17 billion in Community Development Block Grants targeted to help homeowners to repair or replace their homes.
The funds would be used to repair or restore damage that is not covered by homeowners insurance or the maximum $32,000 available from FEMA.
Another $11.7 billion would help repair New York City’s subways while also protecting them from future storm damage.
Another $9.7 billion is dedicated to the National Flood Insurance Program to pay home claims.
Future storm protection in the bill amounts to $13 billion.