Obama asks Congress for emergency aid for Sandy

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WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve a $60.4 billion emergency aid package to assist recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy, which left more than 130 dead and devastated coastal communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Mr. Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders Friday asking for a sum that by many accounts met and even exceeded expectations in the states most affected by Sandy. New York and New Jersey lawmakers on Capitol Hill sounded tepid support, calling the request "a very good start." Others hailed the announcement, and some noted privately that they doubted more aid was likely to come.

In a joint statement, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said the request "doesn't cover all of New York and New Jersey's needs" but does cover "a large percentage."

Of the New York and New Jersey senators, only Mr. Lautenberg sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will have to approve the request before a final package can be approved. But Mr. Schumer and Mr. Menendez are close to Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who has expressed support for swiftly approving an aid package.

The affected states enjoy less clout in the House. One Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee is from New Jersey; three senior Democrats on the panel are from New York.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said "We have the request, and will review it."



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