Obama seeks $60.4 bn for Sandy repairs, states want more


President Barack Obama asked Congress on Friday to approve a $60.4 billion aid package to help East Coast states rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, well short of their initial requests.

Officials from storm-battered New York, New Jersey and Connecticut had said they needed at least $82 billion combined to make emergency repairs and upgrade infrastructure.

New York and New Jersey lawmakers said they expect Obama will seek more aid as the extent of Sandy's damage becomes clearer. The two states were hit the hardest by the storm, which made landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29.

"This supplemental is a very good start, and while $60 billion doesn't cover all of New York and New Jersey's needs, it covers a large percentage," said Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

"This is the first good news New York has had in a while," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

Of the total, $15 billion would come in the form of Community Development Block Grants, a mechanism that gives local jurisdiction significant flexibility to provide aid and rebuild quickly.

In addition, nearly $13 billion would go to an array of projects aimed at better protecting the New York-New Jersey coastal region and preventing damage from future storms. Another $6.2 billion would be reserved for public transportation infrastructure.

Officials said they could ask for more aid later on. There is precedent for multiple funding requests to cope with a disaster.

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress had passed two appropriations totaling $62.3 billion. Within a year, two more packages were passed worth a combined $48 billion, which also covered damage from Hurricanes Rita and Wilma.

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