Remaining $50 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package faces obstacles in the House

Hurricane Sandy debris in New Jersey. SOURCE: Steve Zumwalt/FEMA via Facebook


The remaining $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package will face obstacles in the House, where the bill is scheduled to be brought up for vote on Jan. 15th. 

On Dec. 28, the Democratic-controlled Senate passed a $60 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package but the Republican-dominated House has authorized only $9.7 billion in emergency funding for the National Flood Insurance Program.

GOP lawmakers are objecting to several key provisions in the Senate-approved bill, including:

1. About $400 million in disaster relief spending that are not related to Hurricane Sandy.

There are provisions to fund recovery costs for other natural disasters, including Hurricane Irene; the tornado damages in Joplin, Missouri; and flood in North Dakota.

“We’ve always had a tradition here of when we do disaster bills of dealing with disasters that have not been paid for,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “There are no non-disaster related things in this bill…There are some who use things as excuses, ok?”

2. Share of federal reimbursement to states and local governments for the costs of repairing and rebuilding public infrastructures (roads, bridges, sewers, etc.) damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Some Republican lawmakers argued that cities should pay a larger share of the recovery costs. But given the extent of the damages, doing so would force many cities to put off their rebuilding efforts or significant raise taxes to cover the immense costs.

“If you tell a lot of our localities they have to pay 35% of this huge damage, they’ll never rebuild,” Schumer pointed out.

3. Mitigation costs.

Some Republican lawmakers have objected to covering mitigation costs of the rebuilding efforts.

Schumer argued that mitigation is necessary because it would make “no sense” to rebuild everything as it was without putting in place measures to prevent or lessen storm-related damages in the future.

Because New York and New Jersey are two very densely-populated states, they have little choice but to rebuild in areas that are prone to flooding.

“To me, you can’t responsibly rebuild unless and until you know that you’re going to have the right type of barrier at the beach,” said Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.). “That may be mitigation to some but to me, it’s restoration back to where it was before or made better so you can make the wise kind of investment decisions on how to rebuild private properties and government properties as a matter of fact.”

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One Comment on “Remaining $50 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package faces obstacles in the House

  1. Pingback: House approves $50 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief package | What The Folly?!

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