Sandy relief should not see further delay
Over the break, the House of Representatives passed a $50 billion federal relief package for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. The package, which includes $17 billion in immediate aid and $33.6 billion in long-term aid, is designed to speed up recovery efforts in those areas still rebuilding after the October storm. Relief for those affected by the historic storm cannot come soon enough, and a Senate vote to approve the bill this week should not be delayed.
Congress has reacted swiftly and efficiently in years past to requests for relief, especially for large-scale cleanups incurred by disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Yet federal aid for Sandy victims has been comparatively slow coming. Late last year, fiscal irresponsibility and partisan infighting prevented a larger package from being passed in the Senate, and, in the meantime, both individuals and municipalities have struggled to restore and rebuild in the absence of federal support.
Recovery — as well as the funds that will enable that recovery — is imperative when one hashes out the numbers. According to a recent University report, New Jersey alone will require $25 billion for recovery efforts to get the state’s economy, which suffered a considerable blow from the storm, back to pre-Sandy levels. And with the state suffering a total of $36.9 billion in damage, according to state legislators, federal aid will be needed to fill in the gap. A considerable federal aid package would then be necessary if the state wishes to see a full recovery.
True, critics of the bill have noted certain unrelated funds smuggled and earmarked into the bill by proactive legislators. Yet such objections, given the delay of relief efforts already, miss the point. A comprehensive, expansive package for Hurricane Sandy recovery is long-overdue, and further delaying such a bill will only increase the hardships so many of the storm’s victims have already been forced to suffer. Partisan politics have no place in recovery efforts.
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