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South Jersey lawmakers make plea for Sandy aid on House floor

New Jersey’s congressional delegation were among several members pressing fellow members to approve $51 billion in Hurricane Sandy aid on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

“Almost three months later and my constituents continue to suffer,” Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., said on the House floor.

The aid would help residents and business recover just like following Hurricane Katrina and other disasters in other parts of the country, he and others said.

“They’re not just whining, they are not just uncomfortable, they are devastated,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., said of South Jersey residents. “Sure we can say let’s wait, let’s do something different. But we were there for you.”

Congress is expected to vote this afternoon on a Hurricane Sandy aid package, including several amendments that seek to recoup expenses by trimming the request or cutting other federal programs. Some Republicans believe the aid package is bloated.

“A tragedy as Hurricane Sandy shouldn’t be used as an excuse for a grab bag of spending,” said Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. “Republicans were suppose to change how things are done. Clearly we have not.”

Out of 92 amendments submitted in connection with the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, the House of Representatives will vote on 13. The first, which is expected to pass by a wide margin, would provide $17 billion in emergency funding to address immediate needs of those affected by Sandy.

One of the more controversial amendment comes from Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who has proposed the funding be recouped through a 1.63 percent across the board cut to all federal discretionary appropriations, including for domestic and military programs. That proposal, which is expected to come up for a vote later in the afternoon, is expected to garner the most debate.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., then is expected to put forward an amendment to bolster the aid package with an additional $34 billion in spending followed by proposals from other lawmakers, most seeking to trim programs included in Frelinghuysen's package. For instance, one seeks to remove $150 million in Regional Ocean Partnership grants, another $13 million in National Weather Service ground readiness project funding and still a third wants to strip $9.8 million for rebuilding seawalls and buildings on uninhabited islands in Connecticut.

Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., also has an amendment that would clarify fisheries disaster money to apply to damage from Sandy as well as other storms in 2012.

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