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L-R Congresswomen Velazquez and Maloney

Congress Passes Sandy Relief Nearly Three Months After the Storm

“Help is on the way, finally!” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, as the House passed a package of legislative measures, on Tuesday, January 15th, that will deliver $9.7 billion in federal disaster aid to areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy last October.

The new measures will support recovery efforts through the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, the Federal Transit Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Small Business Administration disaster loans. Two policy initiatives advocated by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez were also part of the legislation – one that sets aside funding to repair New York City’s only veterans cemetery, Cypress Hills National Cemetery, the final resting place for 20,000 fallen service members, and the other to provide funding for removal of mold from York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments.

“This package of funding will help thousands of New Yorkers,” said Velázquez. “These resources will not only help our communities recover and rebuild, but also strengthen the city’s critical infrastructures against the threat of future storms.”

In December, the Senate passed a $60.4 billion Sandy Disaster Relief Package by a vote of 62 – 32, but despite promises from House Republicans to consider Sandy relief before Congress adjourned, no action was taken. When it reconvened, GOP House leadership divided Sandy disaster relief into three pieces, with the first bill providing $9.7 billion to the National Flood Insurance Program passing on January 6th. The second and third pieces of legislation, to provide $17 billion and an additional $33.4 billion in Sandy relief passed on the 15th. The three measures combined will provide $60.1 billion in disaster relief, nearly the same level of funding in December’s Senate bill. The second and third will be taken up in the Senate, shortly, where they are expected to pass.

“Thousands of residents of the New York City area are struggling to rebuild their homes and businesses,” said Maloney. “Four major hospitals in and around New York City were evacuated and sustained significant damage, including three in my district, and the very arteries of our city, its subway system, suffered its worst damage in its 108-year-long history. The legislation passed by the House will help fund the desperately needed reconstruction and recovery efforts of the New York metropolitan region, which is a key economic driver of our nation, generating about 16% of our national tax revenues and 11% of our gross domestic product.”

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