Congress Passed the Sandy Aid Bill

…Now what?

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As expected, the Senate passed a $50.5 billion aid package on Monday evening to help rebuild areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. With the $9.7 billion increase in national flood insurance that was passed earlier this month, Sandy victims now have $60.2 billion coming to their rescue. But who exactly gets all that money? And when?

Well, the next stop for the Sandy relief bill itself is obviously the president’s desk. Obama is expected to sign it and will probably do so with a coy grin, since he literally got over 99 percent of what he asked for. (Obama’s original budget request called for $60.4 billion in aid, which is only slightly more than the $60.2 billion in aid that Congress ended up passing.) But after the ink dries, things get a little complicated.

The Sandy Aid package must be divvied up between the completely devastated communities in coastal areas of New Jersey and New York, not to mention the less devastated parts of states like Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut. From a big picture perspective, some $50 billion will go towards disaster relief, while the remainder of the money will go towards mitigation — that is, reducing the risk of a disaster like this happening again. Think infrastructure improvements, rather than an ultra powerful weather machine built by a mad scientist. Now because the original Obama proposal went through both the media’s and the Republicans’ gauntlet, some got the impression that the bill was “stuffed with pork.” That was, however, not the case, and the final breakdown of aid dollars doesn’t look too different from Obama’s original breakdown.

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