Gov. Cuomo Meets With Congressional Leaders, Lobbies For Federal Disaster Funds
WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with House and Senate leaders and White House officials in Washington on Monday to appeal for nearly $42 billion federal aid to help cover the damage left behind by superstorm Sandy.
This was Cuomo’s first official visit to Washington since being sworn in as governor two years ago.
WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports
Cuomo said the meeting with House Speaker John Boehner was productive and left him feeling positive.
“He wants to be helpful. He understands the damage that was done. He said he was personally familiar with a lot the areas that were damaged from his visits to New York. We talked about timing by the end of the year, possibly by Christmas,” said Cuomo.
Cuomo was joined by members of the New York Congressional delegation at his series of meetings with leaders on both sides of the aisle.
Cuomo announced last week that he would ask for $32 billion in aid to recover from the storm plus an additional accounting of $9 billion for mitigation of damage and for preventive measures for the next disastrous storm.
Also last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Sandy caused $36.8 billion in damage in the state.
The governor is requesting that amount, which is greater than his state’s entire budget, from the federal government.
Cuomo, Christie and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy are teaming up in a regional effort to land nearly $83 billion in federal aid. Christie is expected to be in Washington on Thursday to press for aid, Cuomo said.
The White House is expected to release its proposal for supplemental aid later this week.
Several congressional officials said given the current fiscal climate, the federal aid granted may be less than what the impacted states are seeking.
“New York has been there for other parts of the country when they needed help,” Cuomo said. “We’re asking for the same today. So far I’m optimistic.”
Cuomo began his day at the White House, where he met with Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan and other top aides to President Barack Obama. He then went to Capitol Hill for meetings with top members of the Senate Appropriations Committee and leaders of both parties.
Donovan and Craig Fugate, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of the storm relief efforts, are scheduled to testify Wednesday before the Appropriations Committee Homeland Security subcommittee.
Lawmakers from states hit by Sandy say they expect the fight for more money to drag on for months and that several emergency spending bills will be needed. State officials worry that Congress’s willingness to provide aid will lessen as time wears on.
The government has so far provided about $2 billion in federal funds – about half for direct assistance to individuals – to the two most heavily damaged states and nine others hit by Sandy.
There’s about $5 billion left in FEMA’s disaster relief fund, but under last year’s budget agreement President Obama can seek another $5.4 billion without hitting a ceiling on spending.
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