The House has approved a $50.5-billion package to help New York, New Jersey and other Northeast states hammered by Hurricane Sandy carry out immediate repairs and also plan longer-term storm-protection measures.
Construction-related funding in the package is substantial, particularly for transportation and waterways work. It includes $10.9 billion for the Federal Transit Administration; $5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers; and $2 billion for the Federal Highway Administration.
The measure, which the House cleared on Jan. 15 by a 241-180 vote, next goes to the Senate, which is expected to take it up soon after it returns on Jan. 22.
The House-approved package combines two separate measures: a $17-billion bill sponsored by Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) that funds near-term recovery and repairs; and a $33.5-billion amendment from Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). That measure’s spending is aimed at long-term reconstruction and storm protection.
The governors of three states hardest hit by Sandy—New Jersey’s Chris Christie (R), New York’s Andrew Cuomo (D) and Connecticut’s Dannel Malloy (D) issued a statement welcoming the House vote. They also said, “We anticipate smooth passage when this package moves back to the Senate for final approval and for this long-awaited relief to finally make its way to our residents.”
Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez of New Jersey and New York’s Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand noted that there had been “weeks of delay” in the House, but called the vote “great news” for their region.
The senators—all Democrats—added, “As we rebuild, we are committed to making smart investments to ensure that our transportation networks, beach communities, businesses and local neighborhoods can rebuild stronger so that they are better prepared for future storms.”
The House-passed measure sets oversight and reporting requirements and timetables for releasing some of the construction funds.
For example, it calls for reports from the Corps by March 1 and May 1, assessing flood-control projects now in place and under construction plus identifying projects authorized but not yet built that could mesh with a longer-range study of flood risks along the Sandy-damaged Northeast coast.
On Dec. 7, the Obama administration had requested $60.4 billion for recovery and rebuilding from the devastating late October storm—an amount that was less than the combined needs estimates from New Jersey and New York.