Andrew Cuomo on Sandy vote: 'Show me the money'
WASHINGTON -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday he's skeptical about Republican House leaders' promise to hold a vote Friday on $9.7 billion in superstorm Sandy disaster aid: "It's simple for me: Show me the money."
Asked about the vote scheduled for this morning to replenish funds for the strapped federal flood insurance program, Cuomo said he had also been told there would be a vote on the full $60 billion Sandy aid package Wednesday, but it was scrapped at the last minute.
That distrust of Congress lingers in Northeast states still recovering from Sandy after House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) late Tuesday stunned officials by pulling the plug on the promised vote without warning or notice.
The resulting firestorm of sharp criticism by Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other Northeast Republicans led Boehner to tell key New York and New Jersey lawmakers Wednesday that the House would vote on the aid package during the first half of January.
The first vote is planned for Friday. It would increase borrowing authority of the National Flood Insurance Program by $9.7 billion, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on his website.
If the House passes the flood insurance funding, as expected, the Senate is poised to approve it with a voice vote, a Democratic aide said Friday.
The next votes, on Jan. 15, involve two measures -- an $18 billion basic aid bill, and a $33 billion amendment containing funding for construction and other projects to prevent storm damage in the future.
The Senate won't take up that measure, if passed, until the following week, the Democratic aide said.
"Well, the bottom line is that we got the decision that we wanted. What you saw on Tuesday night was unplanned, unscripted. It was the way I felt at the time. And I stand by everything I said," he said on CNN.
"Now, obviously I wish it [the vote] had been done yesterday or the day before, but we are going to have all of that voted on by Jan. 15," he said. "So as far as I'm concerned, what's done is done, and now we go forward; make sure that this does happen and we get the votes," he said.
Northeast lawmakers complain Congress is taking too long to approve disaster relief.
"This has been an extraordinarily long delay," Cuomo said.
The quick vote Friday is needed to keep flood insurance claim payments coming.
FEMA on Wednesday told Congress that without an infusion of money, the flood insurance program would run out of money next week, delaying payments on 115,000 Sandy-related claims and 5,000 claims in other areas.
With Yancey Roy