Cuomo makes first foray to DC as NY governor to press for storm aid; no talk of 2016

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

WASHINGTON -- In a whirlwind trip to the nation's capital Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a bipartisan tour across the city, seeking to finalize a deal that will provide federal relief to victims of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the Northeast and killed more than 130 people in October.

The foray to Washington was his first since the Democratic governor was elected two years ago. While his name is on the lips of some who see him as a possible presidential contender in 2016, he has conspicuously played down any discussion of his future political aspirations. Not a word was spoken about a national election within earshot of any reporter trailing him throughout the day.

At least publicly, Cuomo's trip was all business.

And in Washington, you know it must be serious business when it puts Democrats and Republicans in the same room.

Cuomo brought the New York delegation together for a rare bipartisan press conference after his full day of meetings that took him to the White House for talks with top aides to President Barack Obama and later with congressional leaders from both parties. Cuomo brought with him a subtle entourage of aides and guards as he made his way across town with a PowerPoint presentation that helped him make the case for why New York needs immediate assistance.

The challenge, Cuomo described after his meetings, is that some write off New York as a place that can make do on its own. With a tragedy like Sandy, which caused billions of dollars in damage to his state alone, even a place like New York could use some assistance.

"We need help on this. These are big, big numbers," Cuomo told reporters, echoing what he had told lawmakers whose blessing he needed to receive the aide on behalf of his state. "We can't do this on our budget alone. As a government, we can't ask the people of New York to figure it out, because they can't. You have people whose lives have been turned upside down and they don't have the resources to make this situation right on its own."

A convincing argument, however, doesn't always get you very far in Washington. Some Republicans say that in order for states to receive aid, offsetting cuts in the federal budget must be made elsewhere, which was a primary reason Cuomo took time to meet with Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

"The Speaker is committed to making this work," said New York Rep. Peter King, a Republican who joined Cuomo during the meeting with Boehner. "To do what has to be done."

Without revealing specific details, Cuomo described the meeting with Boehner as "positive," and that the Speaker is waiting from a proposal from the White House before taking more steps on the plan.

"We're trying to cooperate--collaborate our politics, if you will," Cuomo said of working with Republicans.

He added that he is hoping to finalize a deal by Christmas.

"We are going to continue to work until we get the ball in the end zone," he said. "There is no substitute for success here."

Cuomo also said that he was speaking regularly with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie about joint efforts to seek federal relief money. According to Cuomo, Christie -- another potential 2016 presidential hopeful -- is planning his own trip to Washington D.C. on Thursday to make his case for New Jersey.

They plan to share notes.