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An aerial shot from Gov. Cuomo's tour of areas affected by Sandy. Photo: Governor's office via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/page2/">Flickr</a>
An aerial shot from Gov. Cuomo's tour of areas affected by Sandy. Photo: Governor's office via Flickr

Cuomo, representatives push for Sandy aid in Washington

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is joining with leaders of New York's congressional delegation to urge Congress to finally act on a federal aid package for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

It's been seven weeks since the destructive storm. The debate is set to begin Monday, and the measure faces complications and political hurdles.

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Reported by

Karen DeWitt
NYS Capitol Correspondent

Governor Cuomo and New York's congressional delegation say it's taking longer to secure federal money for victims of Superstorm Sandy than it did for Congress to act after Katrina.

Cuomo admits it will be a "challenge" to secure the over $60 billion that President Obama is seeking for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. But he says he doesn't think it's too much to ask.

"If this is done on the substance or merit at all, this should pass overwhelmingly," said Cuomo. "Politics has no place in this decision."

This is not just a wish list...This is really life and death and we have to have it.--New York Congressman Peter King
Senator Chuck Schumer says Monday is "D-Day" for efforts to convince his colleagues to approve the aid. The Senate will begin debate then, and could vote by the end of the week. Schumer says members of Congress who oppose the aid, should think about what it would be like if a natural disaster destroyed their home town.

"And you try to reverse this trend of the federal government being involved in helping areas afflicted by natural disaster, it will boomerang on you," Schumer said. "Because the next time there's a tragedy, it might be in your state."

Senator Schumer condemned a proposal floated by some congressional Republicans to parcel out the money over a nine-year period.

The highest ranking New York Republican in Congress, Representative Peter King of Long Island, says local and state governments would be devastated financially if the funds don't come soon.

"This is not just a wish list," King said. "This is really life and death and we have to have it."

He says the "majority" of Republicans in the house are against the aid, and he needs to convince the leadership to bring the bill to the floor, so supporters can vote on it.  King says the crucial window of opportunity for voting is between now and the holiday break.

Cuomo was also joined by the head of the state's AFL-CIO, as well as business leader Ken Langone. Langone, who says he's been to countless political fundraisers, urged other CEOs to contact their congressional representatives and call in their favors.

"There's a time for all my colleagues in business to pick up the phone and call all those people up," Langone said. "And say, 'OK, now you can do something for us.'"

Further complicating matters, the storm relief request comes in the midst of negotiations over the so called Fiscal Cliff, which is still unresolved. Governor Cuomo, asked if he has an alternative proposal if Congress fails to act on the Sandy aid, said "there is no Plan B."

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