WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Tuesday that he is “hopeful” the White House will submit a supplemental Hurricane Sandy aid package to Congress by the end of this week.
Schumer has been urging Congress to support financial relief for individuals, businesses and local governments hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, which tore through the mid-Atlantic coast at the end of October, killing more than 100 people.
Once the White House submits a relief package, Congress would have to approve any new authorizations for bonds or certain funds to be doled out to effected state and local governments.
Muni market groups like the Council of Development Finance Agencies have been working with Schumer’s office and other lawmakers to ensure special disaster recovery bonds will be included in the final relief package.
They also have been urging lawmakers to include other special tax provisions like additional private-activity bond authority. Muni groups are hopeful that some form of bond legislation, similar to the recovery bonds created after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, will be included in a Sandy relief package.
When asked if there would be any bond provisions in the final Sandy relief package, Schumer told The Bond Buyer, “We will have to wait and see what happens.”
In the current debt crisis, passing any type of supplemental aid package is likely to become another battle in Congress, especially from Republicans who are reluctant to vote for new spending that isn’t offset somewhere else in the federal budget.
Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona said it’s “not likely” that he would support a Sandy relief package in the ballpark of $80 billion, which is the amount in federal aid that has been requested by New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other northeastern states hit hard by the storm.