Senate Approves $17 Billion in Hurricane Sandy Infrastructure Funding

Streets under water in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Image – Alex Wong, Getty Images, via Seattle Times

The Senate passed a $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy aid package that includes about $17b for repairing, replacing and strengthening infrastructure. The bill passed 62-32, and altogether provides about $47.4 billion for immediate help for victims and other recovery and rebuilding efforts. The rest is for non-immediate needs, some of which are only loosely related to disaster relief.  Republicans objected to items such as “$2 million for roof repairs at Smithsonian Institution museums and $58 million in subsidies for tree planting on private properties.”

The Senate earlier defeated a Republican alternative of about $24b that was more focused on immediate needs over the next three months.

The bill is almost certainly DOA in the House, due to the amount of funding and its purposes. Republicans want to pass a “smaller aid package for immediate recovery needs and wait until more data can be collected about storm damage before approving additional money next year.”

The House could modify the bill and send it back to the Senate, which would have to pass it by Thursday noon when the current Congress expires. The Senate wouldn’t like it, but would have to choose between a slimmed down bill or being blamed for delaying disaster assistance.  In any event, look for additional disaster assistance legislation to pass in early 2013.

The Senate bill includes $11.8 billion to repair subway and other mass transit facilities and protect them from future storms. About $5.3 billion would be provided to the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild damaged facilities and mitigate future flood risks.

The bill also provides “$11.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s chief disaster relief fund and $17 billion for community development block grants, much of which would help homeowners repair or replace their homes.”

Sources:

Senate approves $60.4 billion Sandy aid package; bill faces uncertain fate in House, The Washington Post

$60B Sandy aid package clears Senate, Politico