Guvs to Congress: Don't leave without Sandy aid
The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Thursday joined together to urge Congress not to adjourn for the holidays before approving disaster relief for the states hit by superstorm Sandy.
On related developments Thursday, 125 prominent CEOs fired off a letter also pleading for quick action. The CEOS include top executives of NBC Universal, MasterCard Worldwide, Bloomberg, Hess, Morgan Stanley and Madison Square Garden, along with National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern.
Calling the states' needs "real and immediate," New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy, a Democrat, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, made a bipartisan pitch for aid in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.
They noted that the first round of aid for communities hit by Hurricane Katrina came just two weeks after that storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005.
"This marks the seventh week since Sandy made landfall. And Congress has yet to act," the governors wrote.
They referred to the ongoing partisan debate about the so-called fiscal cliff -- a budget battle to cut spending by Jan. 1 -- but said that should not delay disaster relief.
"This is not the time for partisanship or regional isolationism," they said. "The three of us have reached across the aisle and across our borders to work together during this crisis. Congress must do the same and not allow this much-needed aid to fall in to the ideological divide."
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut initially asked for a combined $82 billion in funds. President Barack Obama reduced that to $60.4 billion; now he must negotiate with a Republican-led House and Democrat-led Senate.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who has been leading New York's efforts in the Republican-led House, said he is "reasonably confident" Congress will act before Christmas but there are potential pitfalls.
"The fact that it has to move in such quick period time and it comes at a bad time because of the fiscal cliff and no money being available," King said, rattling off hurdles. "It gives people an excuse if they want to slow it down."
King said some lawmakers might balk at the amount of aid dollars.
"It is a big number, but it is a very fair number," King said. "I don't know that the rest of the country knows how severe" the damage was.
The CEOs, organized through the Partnership for New York City, a prominent big business lobby, said further delays could create permanent damage to the economy of the nation's biggest metropolitan area.
"The tri-state New York metropolitan region includes the largest city economy in the world. This region is the most critical platform for American business and the largest contributor to federal tax revenues," the business leaders said in the letter. "It has been badly shaken by Super Storm Sandy, with extraordinary economic and physical damage that must be quickly recovered or we risk deeper, permanent losses."