"We'll take what we can get" seems to be the mantra of Washington lately. But Sandy relief shouldn't be held prisoner to that.
Yesterday, President Obama put his pen to the paper
on a bill that would hand a nearly broke FEMA the ability to borrow $9.7 billion in funds to handle thousands of Sandy insurance claims. The legislation came straight from the House of Representatives, where it was voted on Friday after Representative John Boehner forced his distressed
post-fiscal-cliff colleagues (67 of which said "no
") to vote on the spending measure.
The imminent deadline for additional funding was a result of FEMA's warning to Congress that the agency's wallet would be empty soon -- an event that would have delayed thousands of these claims in Staten Island, parts of New Jersey and elsewhere. However, as we've said before, the $9.7 billion is just scratching the surface.
After cashing out to the Democrats on the tax breaks, the full Sandy relief package was delayed by Representative John Boehner last week. So, the total $60 billion was put on hold until Congress assembled again. FEMA will be in need again soon enough and, for this reason, the House have scheduled a vote for the remaining $51 billion on January 15. The Senate will vote the week after.
At this point, the decision will come down to just how different this "new" Congress really is.