While Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to downplay the effect of sequestration on the city, the head of the federal emergency management agency visited Staten Island Friday and warned what federal cuts might to do to Hurricane Sandy aid, as officials say billions of dollars are at risk. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
Even as generators still hum in Midland Beach, federal officials leading the recovery effort came to Staten Island on Friday with a message: Hurricane Sandy aid is not immune to sequestration.
In fact, some $2.5 billion is on the chopping block. The total aid package runs about $60 billion for the whole region.
"That may mean we go into a system where permanent work that had not already been started will be delayed until we get additional funding," said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate.
"The impact, though, is going to be felt in the coming months, in those expenditures that would have been larger if sequestration hadn't happened," said Laurel Blatchford of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force. "So it's very bad for all of our efforts here, and very disappointing."
Federal officials said that means longer-term projects are at risk, perhaps projects aimed at preventing this kind of devastation during a future storm.
"These cuts, they're not going to happen today or tomorrow or immediately, but if they are permanent, the impact on New Yorkers is going to be severe," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
"I argued that this should not be subject to the sequester. But you have to realize, there were people on the Republican side that did not want to send any money to the Northeast," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana.
It's still unclear exactly how cuts from Washington will affect the recovery from Hurricane Sandy. But residents on Staten Island said that they are still reeling from this disaster and they need more aid, not less.
"There's a lot of questions to be answered, and they are taking too long," said one resident. "What are we, four, five months into this already?"
"I can't understand why you would want to do that," said another resident. "There's people here, they come in every day. They still need food. They still need water."
No matter what happens in Washington, they haven't given up their patriotism just yet.
Meanwhile, following an unsuccessful meeting with lawmakers on Friday, President Barack Obama signed an order authorizing $85 billion in government spending cuts.
Defense spending is being reduced by about 8 percent, and non-defense spending is slashed by 5 percent.
Despite the cuts, Republicans and Democrats appear to be closer to avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the month.
House Speaker John Boehner said his chamber will take up a bill next week to fund the government past the end of March.
NY1 Political Director Discusses The Sequester
TWC News: Officials Warn Of Sequester's Impact On Sandy Aid
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NY1's Political Director Bob Hardt discusses what will happen after the sequester's across-the-board federal budget cuts took affect Saturday.