STATE – Senate Republicans introduced a stripped-down relief bill for states recovering from Superstorm Sandy on Wednesday, drawing fire from Congressional Democrats.
The Republican package, introduced by Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana, would offer just $24 billion for the region, less than half of the $60.4 billion proposed by Democrats. The GOP package removes $13 billion for mitigation of future storms, $15 billion in community development block grants, and other money unrelated to damages from Sandy.
“After a disaster, as families and communities struggle to rebuild their lives, when we instinctively look to our fellow Americans for their help and their humanity, we have been given a Republican proposal that basically leaves us on our own,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “This amendment will unnecessarily prolong the suffering of those affected by Superstorm Sandy, and needlessly leave entire communities vulnerable to future severe weather incidents. The whole nation will feel the economic impact of a northeast crippled by languishing transportation infrastructure, forsaken small businesses, and families left without homes. As we have said many times, piecemeal recovery is no recovery at all.”
“This proposal is not even within the ballpark of what New York and New Jersey need,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). “We welcome a vote but it has no chance of passing the Senate. We will keep fighting until New York gets its fair share.”
Congressional Republicans view the reduced proposal as more suitable to address urgent needs while remaining fiscally responsible.
“The responsible way is to identify the immediate needs and address those needs,” said Coats. “And for those needs that are longer term, that’s why we have committees and procedures…so it doesn’t turn out to be wasteful.”
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