As expected, the Senate passed a $60.4 billion Sandy relief bill yesterday, and New York and New Jersey politicians are ecstatic.
"“The Senate membership has our respect and gratitude for voting to deliver to the people of our states the resources we need to recover and to move quickly, aggressively, and responsibly with efforts to rebuild and strengthen our states after the historic devastation of Hurricane Sandy," Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie announced in a joint statement yesterday. And Mayor Bloomberg, who requested $9.8 billion in federal recovery aid last month, sang praises for the passage: "I applaud all those who supported this bipartisan legislation and allowed for its passage because the funding it contains is crucial for the thousands of residents and small businesses impacted by the storm."
But the battle for federal recovery dollars isn't over yet. The bill has to be passed by the House of Representatives before Congress' term ends on Wednesday, and many Representatives, particularly Republicans, have objected to its cost. They've suggested cutting it down to $24 billion: initially, New York and New Jersey politicians estimated they needed about $82 billion for recovery.
Govs. Cuomo and Christie, along with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, sent the House a joint letter urging them to pass the bill before the end of the year. "Every time there has been a storm or disaster even close to the size and scope of Sandy…the House has approved billions of dollars in supplemental aid -- $290 billion in total since 1989 as part of 35 separate supplemental appropriations bills," they wrote. "Any delay in passing this aid would be unprecedented in recent history and would signal a shift in federal policy toward disaster assistance."