Sandy money too slow? Blame Washington.
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Though the aid package was reduced more than two months after hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses along the East Coast were destroyed or damaged, House Republicans killed the $60 billion bill passed by the Senate by refusing to bring to a vote what they called a pork-filled relief bill on New Year’s Day. “It was a very dismissive attitude toward New York
and New Jersey,” said King, adding that he quickly began a media blitz, criticizing the congressional slap in the face by members of his own party.
He described the time as “political trench warfare,” with local officials, such as Nassau and Suffolk County executives Ed Mangano and Steve Bellone, rallying for passage of the bill in Washington. “I went on television and basically said that nobody in New York should contribute one penny to the Republican Party,” he said. “Well, that got people’s attention.”
After pressure by King and Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, of New Jersey, along with desperate calls from local and state officials to release the federal aid, Congress passed a $50.5 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package on Jan. 28, and it was signed by President Obama.
All in all, it took Congress three months to pass the emergency measure. In early January, Obama signed a $9.7 billion bill to replenish the National Flood Insurance Program, which has received more than 100,000 claims from businesses and homeowners. The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, signed into law by the president on Jan. 29, included $16 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the first allocation, of $5.4 billion to five states and New York City, eight days later.
New York is required to publish an “Action Plan for Disaster Recovery” — which was released on March 12 — that describes the proposed use of the funding. Still, King said that the GOP’s failure to pass the $60 billion bill as the year began means that it is taking longer for residents to obtain aid.