Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Long Island’s congressional delegation are hopeful that the remaining $50 billion in the Sandy relief aid package will pass next week, although doubts linger after the initial snub.
Reps. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Peter King (R-Seaford) have said the legislation is expected to come up again after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last week refused to schedule a vote for the full $60 billion bill. Both LI congressmen expressed cautious optimism.
“I am reasonably confident that we will get enough votes to pass it,” said Bishop. “We’re hopeful that [our] colleagues will recognize that it’s now the time for New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to receive the assistance that we have provided to other states.”
King said on his Facebook page Thursday, “I don’t want to be overconfident, but I think we’re going to have the votes to pass $50B Hurricane Sandy aid package next week.”
The House, which approved more than $9 billion for the national flood insurance program last week after sparking outrage by not passing the full $60 billion bill, is expected to vote on the rest of the aid in two parts.
Bishop said the $18 billion bill to address emergency needs should first pass relatively easily. But a $33-bill appropriation for longer-term projects to prepare against future storms is more controversial.
Some members of the House GOP majority argue that the aid should be offset by spending cuts. The original proposal easily passed the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.
The two bills will fund key federal agencies involved in the recovery efforts, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others.
The deadline is Jan. 28 for residents to apply for the FEMA Individual Assistance program and for businesses to request low-interest Small Business Administration loans.
King made national headlines when he blasted his own party last week for leaving Sandy survivors out in the cold by not passing the aid bill two months after the Oct. 29 superstorm.
“Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” he was widely quoted as saying. “Because what they did last night was put a knife in the back of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans. It was an absolute disgrace.”