Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Obama proposes spending $60B on Sandy cleanup

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WASHINGTON -- The White House on Friday proposed $60 billion in spending to help the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states recover from superstorm Sandy and shore up defences against future disasters.

Congress is expected to begin consideration of the relief measure as early as next week, with lawmakers from states still reeling from the October storm eager for action by the end of the year.

The White House budget office said in a letter to congressional leaders that its request "ensures urgent and essential needs are being met, while recognizing the need to prevent losses of this magnitude from future disasters."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, issued a joint statement saying the aid would enable their states to "recover, repair, and rebuild better and stronger than before."

Both governors have traveled to Capitol Hill to build bipartisan support for speedy relief, but the amount falls short of the $79 billion they had previously said their states needed to repair damage and fund new storm-protection measures. Connecticut is seeking $3.2 billion for storm protection. Although New York and New Jersey were hardest hit, a number of other states suffered damage in the second-most expensive storm after hurricane Katrina.

The four Democratic senators from New York and New Jersey called the proposal a "very good start," and said they probably would request more federal aid as their states' needs come into focus. New York Reps. Nita Lowey, a Democrat, and Peter King, a Republican, pledged to work to pass the spending measure as quickly as possible.'

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., said, however, U.S. President Barack Obama's proposal falls short of the amount sought by his state.

"We should not shortchange nor add strings to the support residents, businesses and communities in my district and across the region desperately need," he said.

Sandy, which was a hurricane before the centre of the storm made landfill Oct. 29 in New Jersey, caused more than 125 U.S. deaths.

-- Los Angeles Times

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2012 A28

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