The Ticket

White House seeks $60.4 billion for Sandy reconstruction

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie walks to a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. (J. Scott Applewh …

President Barack Obama formally asked Congress Friday for $60.4 billion to help states such as New Jersey and New York rebuild in the aftermath of devastating Superstorm Sandy.

"Our Nation has an obligation to assist those who suffered losses and who lack adequate resources to rebuild their lives," acting Office of Management and Budget Director Jeffrey Zients said in a letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"Although estimates of the total damage of Hurricane Sandy remain in flux, current projections are that Sandy is on track to be the second or third most costly natural disaster in U.S. history, behind Hurricane Katrina (2005) and close to Hurricane Andrew (1992)," Zients wrote.

The emergency spending aid request "includes efforts to repair damage to homes and public infrastructure and to help affected communities prepare for future storms," he said.

The news came a day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie met with Obama and top aides behind closed doors at the White House and then canvassed Capitol Hill.

Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a joint statement praising the bill, saying it would help the region "to recover, repair and rebuild better and stronger than before" and would offer states "maximum flexibility" in how to use the funds.

"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 in the joint statement.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg noted in a separate statement that the White House proposal did not include "everything requested" by officials in the region. Last month, state and local officials estimated that New York and New Jersey had incurred more than $80 billion in damages when the storm hit in late October.

Bloomberg also said officials "have always been realistic about the fiscal restraints facing the federal government. Now it's up to Congress to come together and work in a bipartisan fashion. We need a full recovery package to be voted on in this session of Congress. Any delay will impede our recovery."

Holly Bailey contributed to this report from New York.

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