Today, President Obama formally asked Congress for $60.4 billion in federal aid for areas struck hard by Hurricane Sandy—namely New York and New Jersey. While the number is not the $82 billion sought by the region, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and NJ Governor Chris Christie were positive, saying in a joint statement, "The request is crafted to afford maximum flexibility to state governments and we will continue to work with the Administration and Congress as our needs arise. We thank President Obama for his steadfast commitment of support and look forward to continuing our partnership in the recovery effort.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg sounded a similar tone, "While the total funding request released by the White House today is not everything requested, we have always been realistic about the fiscal constraints facing the Federal government. Now it’s up to Congress to come together and work in a bi-partisan fashion, and I know that our Congressional delegation will work extremely hard to deliver the maximum possible aid, without any spending offsets. We need a full recovery package to be voted on in this session of Congress. Any delay will impede our recovery."

The NY Times reports, "The president’s plan would not cover several big-ticket items sought by state governments. It would not pay for damage already covered by private insurance and would extend aid only to primary residences. While small businesses will be eligible for help, larger private firms like Consolidated Edison will not be. The plan also assumes that states will have to pay about 10 percent of the cost of any repair and mitigation projects that are approved, even though they asked the federal government to foot 100 percent of the bills."

Of course, this request comes at a terrible time because of the fiscal cliff talks: According to the Wall Street Journal, "Lawmakers are looking for a way to avert automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect early next year. In order to avoid that so-called fiscal cliff, they must find ways to reduce the deficit."

House Speaker John Boehner's spokesman said, "We have the request, and will review it." His fellow Republican Congressman, Rep. Peter King, told Newsday, "I'm optimistic. It's absolutely essential. Congress has always done it in the past."