On Monday Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city would be seeking $9.8 billion in federal money to help clean up the mess left by Hurricane Sandy (in total the city wants more than $19 billion) and today hizzoner went down to Washington to ask for it. "Everyone I met with understands the severity of the damage and the importance of helping," Bloomberg told reporters. "We’re all Americans, this is not a partisan thing. We are going to get things done."
“There’s every reason for Congress to provide us with the assistance we need," Bloomberg went on to say, "given New York City’s importance to the health of the entire nation. Because consider this: We’re just 2.6 percent of the nation’s population but we do generate 4.3 percent of America’s gross annual domestic product. These numbers clearly show that New York City’s recovery from Sandy is vital to America’s continued economic recovery and growth."
During his brief jaunt down south Bloomberg was scheduled to meet with Senators Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Harry Reid, Saxby Chambliss and John McCain and Representatives Eric Cantor, Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell. And to make sure the press didn't forget he was there, he also held a brief press conference with our local Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
"There's no doubt this is going to be a hard fight: We have a Congress that is decidedly less friendly to disaster aid than anytime in 100 years," Schumer told reporters before later adding that, "It's a large amount of money when the federal government doesn't have huge amounts of surplus, to say the least."
And while Bloomberg was the only local New York politician down in Washington today, he wasn't alone in spirit. "The governor and I will ham and egg this, rest assured, throughout the process," Bloomberg said when asked about Governor Andrew Cuomo's absence. And as if to prove the point, Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie this afternoon sent out a press release reiterating that they were very serious about the very expensive cost estimates they have released regarding Sandy cleanup:
Our states took a devastating blow from Hurricane Sandy, and our respective cost estimates to restore and rebuild reflect the ferocity of Sandy and the impact to our transportation and utilities infrastructures, our economies, tourism industries and, most importantly, the lives, homes and livelihoods of our citizens. Our economies and infrastructures are inextricably linked and, in many ways, dependent on one another, which is why we share common goals in the rebuilding effort.
We will work with our respective Congressional delegations and the Obama Administration to ensure that our states receive federal support commensurate with the damage wrought by the storm and experienced by our residents. Our requests also include necessary prevention and mitigation efforts as prudence dictates that we not suffer this great a human or financial loss again.
It is our shared commitment to the people of our states to work in partnership so that our needs are met and we receive as much federal support as possible.