Democrats on Capitol Hill say President Barack Obama is preparing to ask Congress for about $50 billion in additional emergency aid for states hit by Sandy.
Two Senate Democratic officials offered up that figure Wednesday, saying the final number is still being worked out. The price tag could be anywhere between $45 billion and $50 billion. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the administration's continuing work in preparing the emergency aid request.
Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee there is no final number yet. But he did make clear the White House doesn't think Congress needs to pass a bill to cover the full $82 billion in costs from the storm because he said some of those damages are already covered by other sources.
“One of the things that we're doing right now is saying, 'OK, among those $80 billion in costs, which are already covered by existing resources at FEMA? In flood insurance? Which are ones that need to be taken care of, but will be taken care of by private insurance? And what is left by the federal government to have to cover?'”
The late October storm was one of the worst ever to strike the Northeast. So far, the government has distributed about $2 billion in aid to 11 states.
The requests for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut consisted of two parts: damages and costs for mitigation projects to project from future storms.
This math discrepancy has already come up once before — Mayor Michael Bloomberg left out $5 billion in expected FEMA reimbursement when he released numbers of the city's uncovered needs after Sandy, but Governor Andrew Cuomo included the FEMA money in his total of the city's losses, which had the added effect of making his ask for Congress bigger.
“This is not a number that's been brought out of the sky," Congresswoman Nita Lowey, the incoming ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, told WNYC about the $82 billion ask. "This is a number that's carefully pored over by the governors and their staff. And we intend to keep talking about it and hopefully get that number up."
Lowey and Congressman Peter King released a joint statement Wednesday saying $50 billion is not enough for Sandy-affected states.