Updated 12/30/2012 10:07 AM
Schumer Wants House To Vote On Sandy Aid Bill
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Senator Charles Schumer called on leaders in the House of Representatives on Saturday to allow the $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package to come to the floor for a vote.
The Senate passed the measure by a 61-33 vote on Friday, with 12 Republicans supporting the measure.
It now faces an uphill battle in the House of Representatives, where many Republicans have said they prefer a smaller bill for now, then allocate more funding after damage is further assessed.
"Just as the House has a responsibility to pass a fiscal cliff bill, they have an equal responsibility to pass our Sandy bill," Schumer said. "For the House to walk away and not allow a vote would be unconscionable."
Schumer said the number-one priority is to get homeowners across the state who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy more money to make repairs.
Rockaway resident and firefighter Mike McGrath, who spoke at Schumer's press conference, is one of those homeowners, who said the money he has already received is not enough.
"I was given FEMA money very quickly, but it's a drop in the bucket for the amount of money what I need to redo this house," McGrath said.
The aid package would also benefit tens of thousands owners of businesses, many of which have been closed since the storm, offering them grants to cover repairs and losses, rather than just loans.
"This aid will bring them back to profitability," said Schumer. "Present law, they can get a loan at 6 percent. What good is that, with interest rates where they are? This will give them grants and aid."
Schumer explained there would also be money for infrastructure improvements, to help fortify the coastline and prevent similar flooding from happening again.
Some Republican lawmakers said they would prefer a smaller bill for now, then allocate more funding after the damage from Sandy is further assessed.
The City Council has launched a petition also pushing Congress to pass the relief package before the new year. The petition can be found online at council.nyc.gov.