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Senate set to vote on Sandy aid package

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote today on a $60.4 billion aid package for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents and businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Debate on the bill, House Resolution 1, and more than 20 amendments – including an alternative plan by Senate Republicans that would cut the total aid to $23.8 billion – recommenced Dec. 27, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying he hopes for a final vote Dec. 28.

If passed, the bill would proceed to the House of Representatives, where it would likely meet Republican opposition.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said prior to Christmas that the $60.4 billion Senate proposal contains unnecessary spending.

“Only 64 percent of the bill’s $60.4 billion will be spent within the next two years,” Ryan said in a Dec. 20 statement to The Hill. “We need to ensure the necessary resources are provided in response to true emergency needs.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning called on the House of Representatives to embrace the Senate proposal.

“As Congress returns to Washington to confront the federal government’s significant fiscal challenges, the members of the House of Representatives cannot and most not ignore the critical needs still facing New Yorkers, and our entire region, in the wake of Sandy,” Cuomo said in a Dec. 28 statement. “It is now up to the House to come together the same way the Senate did and act.”

Rep. Jim Himes, a Greenwich Democrat, said in a Dec. 21 statement, “I am greatly disappointed in Congress’ inability to pass an aid package for the millions of victims in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. In years past, when Hurricane Katrina flooded the Gulf States or earthquakes shattered the west coast, this body acted swiftly and without hesitation to provide victims with assistance. Now we need help, but extremists in Congress apparently think disaster aid is only warranted when it’s their constituents who need help. Enough with the bickering. It is well past time for both parties to come to the table and provide our constituents with the relief they so desperately need.”

[Editor's note: A previous version had stated that the Senate postponed action on House Resolution 1 as of the evening of Dec. 27. The Senate resumed debate over H.R. 1 on Dec. 28 and was scheduled to vote on amendments to the bill.]

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Patrick Gallagher

Bio: Fairfield County Bureau Chief Staff Reporter Westchester County Business Journal Covers: Economy, energy, government, infrastructure and public works projects, law, media, technology Phone: (914) 694-3600, ext. 3017

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