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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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"When we had the devastation in New Orleans, we got the aid to those states very quickly," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said on the Senate floor, noting that far more people were affected by Sandy's path of destruction in a heavily populated area.

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"We have to make a decision on this very, very important legislation before we leave here this week," Reid said. "I would hope that everyone would cooperate, but we have to do this."

The $23.8 billion offered in the Republican plan would be less than 30 percent of the initial $82 billion aid request made by New YorkNew Jersey and Connecticut earlier this month, based on early damage estimates from the Oct. 29 storm.

The Republican plan would eliminate some $13 billion in infrastructure improvements aimed at helping to prevent damage from future storms. Among these are projects to keep New York City subway tunnels from flooding and to build sand barriers to protect some shorelines from storm surges.

It labels $5.4 billion to make transportation systems more resilient as "non-Sandy related." The Amtrak passenger rail agency, a frequent target of Republican budget-cutting efforts would get only $32 million under the bill, instead of $336 million.

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