The Republican caucuses in Congress have been blocking superstorm Sandy aid for New York and New Jersey because not all the money would go toward emergency expenditures needed to provide immediate relief.
It's true that the legislation also includes aid for other projects, including Alaskan fisheries and a NASA site in Florida. Congress has traditionally included unrelated items in disaster-aid bills. But if these items need to be removed to help communities ravaged by Sandy, then remove them.
The Republicans are also balking about portions of the $60 billion aid request that would be spent on mitigation to prevent future storm damage. But that work is just as necessary for the affected areas as immediate repairs to homes, businesses, infrastructure, and mass transit.
If the Republicans want to deal with these needs separately, they should commit to passing a separate bill in tandem with the emergency funding that provides the funds to replenish dunes, build sea gates, and fortify infrastructure against future storms. After all, as Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) points out, "a piecemeal recovery is a failed recovery."
It takes months to draw plans for large mitigation projects, so that work needs to begin now. Rebuilding existing structures without protecting against future devastation is a waste of money. Climate scientists warn that another havoc-wrecking storm will come, they just don't know when.
New Jersey and New York residents can't help but feel offended by Congress' dragging its feet in providing storm relief. It sure seems like two of the most generous states in the country when it comes to federal taxation ought to be treated with more grace.
New Jersey only gets back 61 cents in federal funds for every dollar it sends to Washington. That's the least of any state. New York gets back 79 cents for every dollar it pays in federal taxes, ranking it 42nd in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.
Lawmakers who have been slowing down the process to aid the storm states appear out of step with their constituents, many of whom traveled or sent money to help with the Sandy relief efforts. They are also ignoring that a fellow Republican budget hawk, Gov. Christie, helped draw up this funding plan.
Of course, relief money should be wisely spent. Funds for fisheries and NASA outposts can wait. But New York and New Jersey can't. They don't often need this type of federal help, but they do now. Perhaps the balking Republicans need to look at a map to be reminded that New York and New Jersey are in the United States.