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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

House GOP kills Hurricane Sandy relief bill
(Page 2 of 2)
Christina Daly/Herald
Sen. Chuck Schumer held a press conference on Wednesday at the storm-ravaged home of Councilwoman Fran Adelson, far right, where he criticized House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans for failing to pass a Senate-approved $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package.

City officials said that they are relying on federal funding to offset the $250 million cost associated with the storm — far above the city's $88 million budget.

Councilwoman Fran Adelson said, “How many pictures do you need to see before you know that it’s just the right thing to do?”

Adelson explained that the funding would help homeowners, businesses and hospitals rebuild their properties and meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency's mitigation specifications to limit potential damage from future storms.

City Manager Jack Schnirman said that the pace of Long Beach’s recovery would not slow down as a result of the stalled legislation, but he acknowledged that not having an exact figure of how much funding the city will receive makes it difficult to continue forging ahead.

“At this point, we’re plowing ahead, full steam, with what we have to do,” he said. “It is a major challenge to plan without the certainty of this funding."

Many local homeowners — including those in the Canals, an area that sustained some of the worst damage during the storm — came out to hear Schumer speak.

“It’s unconscionable for them to not vote on this bill right now when people are in desperate need of help,” said Michael Parker, of Forester Street.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that the continued “inaction and indifference” by the House of Representatives is “inexcusable.”

In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, Cuomo and Christie said, “It has now been 66 days since Hurricane Sandy hit and 27 days since President Obama put forth a responsible aid proposal that passed with a bi-partisan vote in the Senate while the House has failed to even bring it to the floor. This failure to come to the aid of Americans following a severe and devastating natural disaster is unprecedented. The fact that days continue to go by while people suffer, families are out of their homes, and men and women remain jobless and struggling during these harsh winter months is a dereliction of duty. When American citizens are in need we come to their aid. That tradition was abandoned in the House last night.”

For his part, King and other members of the Long Island delegation blasted Boehner and other House representatives, saying that thousands of residents are still displaced and that New York was being ignored.

“We cannot believe that this cruel knife in the back was delivered to our region,” King said on the House floor. “The dismissive attitude that was shown last night toward New York, New Jersey and Connecticut typifies I believe a strain in the Republican party. These people have no problem finding New York when it comes to raising money, it’s only when it comes to allocating money that they can’t find the ability to do it.”

President Obama also urged the House to pass the bill.

“When tragedy strikes, Americans come together to help those in need,” Obama said in a statement. “I urge Republicans in the House of Representatives to do the same.”

King told ABC News that Wednesday's meeting with Boehner was “extremely positive.” He said Boehner assured members that he would allow a vote on Friday for roughly $9 billion in flood insurance relief and a second vote later this month for an additional $51 billion in aid for the region.

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