GOP Senators vow to trim superstorm Sandy aid to $23.8 billion
Senate Republicans have proposed an alternate disaster relief plan for states affected by superstorm Sandy, which would use $23.8 billion- rather than President Obama's proposed $60.4 billion- to fund initial relief.
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund had about $4.3 billion as of Tuesday, but the request for new funding has become tangled up with Congress' tense talks over the year-end "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts.Skip to next paragraph
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"We don't have time right now to get all the way through and analyze the actual losses that were attributable to Sandy," said Republican senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, adding that the full $60.4 billion looked like a "slush fund."
KATRINA FUNDS FLOWED SWIFTLY
Democrats argue that the full funding amount is needed to ensure that local businesses, municipalities and transit agencies in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut can launch full-fledged reconstruction projects immediately with the confidence that they will be fully reimbursed. Without the money approved, there will be delays, they say.
The move would mark a significant shift from Congress' actions following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the last storm to wreak destruction on a similar scale as Sandy. Within two weeks after Katrina's storm surge flooded New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities, Congress had appropriated $62.3 billion, and storm costs eventually topped $100 billion.