New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez on Monday nicknamed President Barack Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary Shaun Donovan the Hurricane Sandy “disaster czar.”
At a press conference with fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg and New York Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer where they praised the Senate’s passage of a Sandy aid package, Menendez coined the term.
“I, along with my colleagues, very much now look after this success to actually having this money begin to flow to the states, to the communities, to the individuals in terms of their homes, to the businesses that are waiting to make, in essence, life or death decisions about their business,” Menendez said. “Now this will begin.”
“I’ve had a series of conversations, as I’m sure several of my colleagues have, with Secretary Donovan, who’s been named by the president to be sort of like the czar—that’s not his title, but I always keep calling him the czar—the ‘disaster czar’ in this particular case, so that we could be ready for this moment,” Menendez said. “I expect he and the administration will move expeditiously to get money to our respective states so that we can get people’s lives and businesses back together again.”
The Senate passed the $50.5 billion Sandy relief package 62-36, and according to the Washington Times, “will have used up all the new tax money President Obama won by raising rates on the wealthy in the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal.”
“The tax deal that Congress and Mr. Obama reached in early January cut taxes overall but let them rise on individuals making more than $250,000 a year and families with income of more than $300,000,” the Times reported. “Those increases brought the government somewhere on the order of about $40 billion for fiscal year 2013. The spending bill for storm recovery costs $50 billion and, coupled with an additional $9.7 billion in flood insurance money Congress passed this month, brings the total tab for Sandy to $60 billion.”
An amendment from Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee that would have imposed across the board spending cuts to offset the $50.5 billion Sandy aid package was defeated in the Senate 35-62.
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