WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
WNYC has learned that the $50-billion-dollar Sandy Relief bill will be voted on by the Senate Monday afternoon and it will be debated.
Conservative Republicans, led by Senator Mike Lee of Utah, will offer an amendment to require emergency disaster Sandy spending to be matched by equivalent cuts to other Federal programs, a spokesman for Lee said.
Earlier this month, a similar measure was defeated in the House when the Sandy bill passed with bipartisan support. Backers of the storm relief bill had hoped the Senate would quickly pass the House version. Afterall, the Senate passed the bill before the end of the last session that died in the House.
But Sandy aid was put on hold while the US Senate hammered out bi-partisan reforms about how it does business. Even under those new Senate rules, the Sandy relief legislation will still need 60 votes to pass, and that means several Republicans will have to vote for it.
The Senate's version of Sandy Relief that passed in December was more generous and included $150 million for fisheries in Alaska that had been hit hard by several storms.
But when the bill arrived at the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner failed to bring it for a vote before the close of the 112th Congress.
Earlier this month the House signed off on a scaled down Sandy bill that did not include the fishery aid and $150 million dollars for additional coastal and atmospheric research.