President Obama has requested a $60 billion supplemental spending bill to provide disaster relief to the northeast, according to the governors and Senators of New Jersey and New York.
The amount, less than what the two states have estimated in total damage but more than what was floated in news reports earlier this week, drew praise from officials in both states, but leaders warned that more may be needed, and at least one Republican Congressman criticized Obama for not offering enough help.
"Today’s agreement ... will enable our states to recover, repair, and rebuild better and stronger than before," said a news release from Gov. Christie and New York Gov. Cuomo. "This package also includes funding to invest in essential mitigation and prevention efforts that will better protect our region against the devastating impacts of future superstorms."
They stressed that the bill will provide "maximum flexibility" to state governments -- a provision meant to evade some of the restrictions that hampered the recovery in the Gulf after Hurrican Katrina.
"We thank President Obama for his steadfast commitment of support and look forward to continuing our partnership in the recovery effort," Christie and Cuomo said.
The four U.S. Senators from New Jersey and New York, all Democrats, also praised Obama, but warned that more funding may be needed down the line.
"This supplemental is a very good start, and while $60 billion doesn’t cover all of New York and New Jersey’s needs, it covers a large percentage," the Senators said in a statement. It was sent by New Jersey Sens. Robert Menendez and Frank Lautenberg and New York Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand.
"We believe this will be the first of several supplementals that will be necessary as our states' needs become more clear and we look forward to working with the White House on those as well," they said.
The Senators, though, warned of a hard fight to get the supplemental bill passed before Congress' session wraps up at year's end.
"This is going to be a tough fight in the Congress given the fiscal cliff, and some members have not been friendly to disaster relief. But the care with which the package has been put together has given us a good head start," the Senators said.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.), whose district includes much of the Jersey shore, criticized Obama's request.
"I disagree with President Obama’s decision to not fully request the funding the states of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut say they need to recover and rebuild from the unimaginable, wide-spread damage caused by Hurricane Sandy," LoBiondo said. Combined, the states had estimated $83 billion in recovery and mitigation needs. "We should not shortchange nor add strings to the support residents, businesses and communities in my district and across the region desperately need."
The $83 billion figure includes some costs that will be covered by insurance and others that can be paid for with existing disaster relief funds.