Sandy recovery claims mount. How much will a divided Congress pay? (+video)
Congress may be wrangling over the 'fiscal cliff,' but budget experts are confident that both parties will agree to provide billions in Sandy recovery aid sought by Northeastern governors.
(Page 2 of 2)
In Pictures Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“In the past decade Congress has authorized supplemental appropriations after hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, including $120 billion worth of aid in several bills passed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” wrote Bloomberg in his letter requesting Federal aid on Monday.
In fact, the Gulf Coast delegation and the Army Corps of Engineers kept coming back to Congress for more and more money, recalls D.J. Nordquist, who was working at the office of the federal coordinator for Gulf Coast rebuilding at the time.
The comparison is not lost on the Northeast governors. In his request for funding, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo compared the damage done by Sandy and Katrina. In the three categories he picked, housing, power outages, and businesses impacted, Sandy was more significant.
As Ms. Nordquist notes, politicians have been known to exaggerate before. She recalls that Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu asked for $250 billion to start with. “Her strategy was to ask for something astronomical,” she recalls.
In the case of Sandy, the numbers are also ticking upward very quickly. On Friday, Nov. 23, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey asked for $29 billion. On Wednesday he revised the number to $37 billion to cover measures to protect the state from future disasters.
In Christie’s request for aid, he added that he might still need more money. “The estimate will likely be refined further to consider and include the long-term impact on the next tourism season, shifts in population, impact on real estate values, and other factors,” he said in a letter to Congress.
Governor Cuomo also wants a large amount of money to prevent future damage. He’s asked for $9.1 billion for what he termed “common sense” mitigation and prevention costs such as flood protection for the World Trade center site and the subway system.
Bloomberg’s strategy on Wednesday was to try to make support for shelling out the money a nonpartisan issue. He met with deficit hawks such as Rep. Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky and with Democratic leaders including Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
“Now, we have to bring together both sides in Washington – and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said at a press conference late in the day Wednesday. “Hurricane recovery is not a partisan issue.”
IN PICTURES: Sandy: Chronicle of an unrelenting storm