Conservatives Fight Against Sandy Bill Over Funding For Unrelated Projects
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WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Conservatives and watchdog groups have mounted a “not-so-fast” campaign against a $50.7 billon Superstorm Sandy aid package that several governors and lawmakers – including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — hope to see pushed through the House this coming week.
Their complaint is that lots of the money will go toward recovery efforts for past disasters and other projects unrelated to the late-October storm.
The aid package includes $150 million for what the Commerce Department described as fisheries disasters in Alaska, Mississippi and the Northeast, and $50 million in subsidies for replanting trees on private land damaged by wildfires.
The objections have prompted senior House Republicans to assemble a $17 billion package that, together with already approved money for flood insurance claims, is well less than half what President Barack Obama sought and the Senate passed in December.
But despite the opposition, Staten Island U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) said he expects the full aid package to pass on Tuesday.
“It’s a difficult project. That’s why I haven’t let my foot off the gas pedal. We have great colleagues – Peter King, Gregory Meeks, Rodney Frelighuysen from New Jersey. We’ve all come together, and we are relentlessly working this, and we’re very confident that we will get it done,” Grimm said.
Grimm said he believes the federal government is spending too much money, and offsets somewhere else in the budget are a good idea. But he said extra spending is warranted when it comes to a natural disaster.
“If we tried to put off-sets into the Sandy package, it would stall in the Senate, and we’d be back to zero,” he told WCBS 880. “And it’s already been way too long.”
Grimm said he believes support for the aid package will overcome the opposition.
“I think we put a plan together to garner enough support to overcome that opposition. So there will be a large amount of opposition because of these issues, but I don’t think they’re insurmountable,” he said. “All we need is 217 (votes), and that’s my goal. My goal is to make sure it passes, because as far as I’m concerned, failure is not an option.”
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