Hurricane Sandy aid could be headed off a cliff unless Congress comes to an agreement in the next week.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg met with members of the state’s congressional delegation and business and union leaders in Cuomo’s Manhattan office on Friday morning to discuss how to convince wavering House and Senate Republicans to approve the full $60.2 billion in aid requested before the end of the year.
“This is a difficult, difficult fight,” Cuomo told reporters at a press conference afterward, adding, “Plan B is to go back to Plan A. There is no Plan B for homeowners to re-public their homes and for small businesses to reopen their businesses.”
Sen. Charles Schumer called next week “D-Day” for securing the funding from Congress. He said there was much work to do to get enough Republican senators to pass the bill when it gets introduced on Monday, and that he would remind colleagues outside the Northeast that New York was there for them in their time of need.
“In the past, when there are disasters, we have risen above it,” Schumer said. “Treat New York no differently than we treat the rest of the country.”
It will be more challenging to get the aid requested through the House, where Republican leadership appears hesitant to allocate the full amount of funding.
Rep. Peter King said he believes that his colleagues will come around eventually. He says they are distracted by the fiscal cliff negotiations and do not understand the long-term effects of the storm’s wrath.
“It’s not a bitter fight – the idea is to get everyone focused,” King said. “This isn’t so much partisan politics. The storm only got two or three days of national coverage when the president came to visit the region, and then he went back to the presidential campaign. [Congress members] don’t see it in front of them every day.”
Some members of Congress are reportedly discussing whether to distribute the funds piecemeal over an extended period of time.
That won’t work, said Rep. Nita Lowey, who noted that Louisiana received $109 billion from Congress after Hurricane Katrina.
“This wasn’t a Democratic or Republican storm,” she said. “We need $60.2 billion and we need it now!”