President Obama signed an emergency measure at the end of January for $50.5 billion in aid for Superstorm Sandy. The federal aid for heavily-impacted Sandy communities is one of the many areas being affected by sequestration – the across-the-board federal budget cuts that began March 1.
The estimates of how much aid will be cut by sequestration range from $1 billion- to $2.5 billion dollars, and those concerned say the cuts will reduce funds to help recovery efforts in the areas of housing and transportation, as well as mitigation efforts.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. She represents the 17th District, which encompasses all of Rockland County, as well as central and northwestern Westchester County, and Mark Prentice is her spokesman.
Meanwhile, Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, whose district includes hard-hit areas in Brooklyn, and parts of Queens, puts the figure higher, as the emergency Sandy relief bill provides money for beyond just the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund. Here’s Jeffries during a recent interview on MSNBC.
Last week, Jeffries joined with two other House Democrats, Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Frank Pallone of New Jersey, and they voiced their concerns about the automatic trimming of Superstorm Sandy aid. Pallone said it would diminish the ability to do many things necessary to rebuild the Jersey shore. He also said the cuts could worsen delays in the National Flood Insurance program because of possible employee furloughs.
Relatedly, the budget cuts could also impact FEMA’s state and local homeland security grant funding by some $120 million, and could lead to layoffs of state and local emergency personnel and first responders.
A request for information from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office about how a reduction in federal Sandy aid would affect allocations in the state was not answered in time for this broadcast.