Most people understand that politics generally slows progress, but in the case of providing relief to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, there is no excuse for the current eight-week stalemate. This is not a test, it’s an emergency. Congress must act.
President Obama has proposed a $60.4 billion emergency spending bill that would go directly to areas affected by the storm. Even then what White House officials are calling a “robust” investment in the region falls far short of what the states had requested.
But it’s more than they currently have and, for that, we can all be grateful.
New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey jointly praised the proposal, and a hurricane recovery task force walked that fine line between support and the option to request more.
Still, Congress has been slow to react. This is in sharp contrast to the timeline of two weeks for approval of more than $62 billion in federal aid for Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Hurricane Sandy, appropriately dubbed “Superstorm Sandy” was an epic event that swept through several states, most notably New Jersey, but also Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina. But the nation’s largest city and financial center suffered some of the worst damage, along with parts of New Jersey.
It is unconscionable to think that relief funding requested by the president is just getting considered.
True, the nation has been hanging from a fiscal cliff, which leaves a lot of harrowing possibilities when broad tax cuts are set to expire and automatic spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect.
But this is an emergency and has been for quite some time, especially for those facing their own personal fiscal cliffs as they either remain homeless or jobless or own businesses that have been devastated and deal with infrastructure that is only beginning to see repair.
Cuomo, Christie and Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, in a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, urged Congress not to leave Washington until it has provided aid to the Northeast.
As they said, the request for $60 billion was diligently assembled based on conservative estimates and in line with supplemental appropriations approved after previous disasters for other areas.
Congress should be capable of handling both the issue of an impending fiscal cliff and disaster relief for those millions who are currently suffering eight weeks after a devastating hurricane sliced through homes and upended lives.