On its first day back from holiday break, the U.S. Senate is expected to debate and take action today on a spending bill to authorize $60.4 billion in disaster relief funding following Hurricane Sandy.
While senators also have agreed to take up nearly two dozen proposed amendments to the legislation, including one to reduce the aid to $24 billion, they overwhelmingly voted, 91-1, last week to cap the amount of time they will spend on the debate. That would indicate the legislation will likely pass, according to Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.
“I have even greater resolve to fight for the resources we need to fully recover from the storm,” Menendez said in a press release.
Since it was originally proposed, senators have sought to amend the original request in various ways. For instance, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, put forward an amendment that would provide $34.5 million for use by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for flood and storm damage reduction studies in the North Atlantic and Mississippi Valley in response to Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac. It originally was slated solely for Sandy.
Other lawmakers, such as Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., have proposed providing only about $24 billion in emergency funding, trimming so-called “extraneous items.”
“We need to make sure that each taxpayer dollar spent is going to meet the needs of those affected by this devastating storm, rather than funding unrelated or unsubstantiated projects,” Coats said in a release.
Still another legislator, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., proposed the package be paid for through a budget offset of $60.4 billion
The U.S. House of Representatives also is expected to take up a Sandy spending package, but its schedule is uncertain at this point, according to Jason Galanes, a spokesman for Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J.
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