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Federal tab for Sandy around $50 billion

Dec. 5, 2012 at 1:51 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- President Obama intends to request about $50 billion in emergency spending from Congress to rebuild states affected by Hurricane Sandy, officials said.

While the final sum is still in negotiation, the spending request will be sent to Congress as early as this week, administration and congressional officials briefed on the discussions said, while the president and Congress are grappling with the federal deficit.

The dollar amount is considerably less than the states requested, the New York Times said Wednesday, noting New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were seeking a combined $82 billion in federal help to restore and clean up after the hurricane, and upgrade infrastructure in preparation for future weather events.

"It might be difficult to get a large aid package through Congress in a lame duck" session, a senior Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee, who declined to be identified as speaking for committee members, told the Times.

The affected states have an ally in Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), chairwoman of the Senate appropriations committee overseeing disaster relief, and a veteran of fights for recovery money after Hurricane Katrina.

In rejecting a proposal that the spending request be delayed until after the new year and noting that gradual disbursement of recovery money in small allotments creates uncertainty in planning and implementing long-term projects, Landrieu said, "I would suggest we do a large package as soon as possible. You should do a lot now and a little bit later. Nibbling around the edges is not going to help."

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