On Eve of Senate Sandy-Aid Vote, Schumer Cautiously Optimistic

Sen. Charles Schumer, center, speaking about the $50.7 billion Sandy aid bill at Point Lookout on Sunday. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
Sen. Charles Schumer, center, speaking about the $50.7 billion Sandy aid bill at Point Lookout on Sunday. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)

Sen. Charles Schumer expressed cautious optimism that the Senate this week will pass a $50.7 billion emergency relief bill to assist families, businesses and municipalities from New Jersey to Staten Island to Montauk that are working to recover from Hurricane Sandy.

At a press conference on a Point Lookout beach Sunday afternoon, Schumer said the vote on the bill is locked for 5:30 p.m. Monday, but that five Republicans are still needed to vote in favor of the package in order for it to pass.

“We’re on the phone calling them,” Schumer said of the Republicans.

Moreover, a unanimous consent among all senators is needed to agree to bring the vote to the floor, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah wants “to make sure that we pay for all of this with cuts in other things,” Schumer said.

Earlier this month, Congress approved the $50.7 billion relief bill, which passed by a vote of 241-180 — with 192 Democrats and 49 Republicans in support; 179 Republicans and one Democrat opposed. Two week prior to that vote, Congress passed a much smaller $9.7 billion package, which wrapped up a highly charged debate around the House's failure to vote on the $60.4 billion Sandy aid bill on Jan. 1.

The bill will provide funds to homeowners to raise their homes and to small businesses to reopen their stores, as well as to municipalities, including the City of Long Beach, Nassau County and Town of Hempstead, for restoration of beaches and inlets. About $5 billion will be available in New York and New Jersey for Army Corps of Engineer projects, including dune restoration.

“It’s going to help us rebuild our whole South Shore beachfront from Staten Island to Montauk, in a way that we couldn’t before,” Schumer said of the aid package. “ … What we’re going to do is not just restore the damage that occurred from Sandy, but make it better.”

Schumer cited 22 projects that include dredging, restoring sand to beaches and providing jetties and seawalls.About $150 million of the package would be allocated to Long Beach island, from East Rockaway Inlet to Jones Inlet, providing for projects on about seven of the nine miles of public shoreline along the barrier island. Schumer said that plans are already in place to rebuild dunes in Long Beach that were designed in years past.

“What we’re going to do, if the community wants, is build a dune,” Schumer said of plans in Long Beach.

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg was among the officials at Sunday’s press conference that also included Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman. Weisenberg said that Long Beach failed to move forward with a $98 million Army Corp of Engineer project for beach restoration in 2006 because the City Council at the time was “intimidated” by people from out of town who attended council meetings, “saying ‘we’re going to have black sand on our beach, we’re going to have riptides, people are going to drown and we don’t want to have it done.’”

But others have said that the council turned down the project in part because it failed to address shoring up the bay side of the barrier island.

Morris Kramer, an Atlantic Beach resident and self-described “independent environmentalist,” expressed skepticism that a post-Sandy beach restoration project would move forward in Long Beach.

“Unless the people in Long Beach, professionals and the business people, the residents, gather together to swamp these people, it’s not going to happen,” Kramer said of people who opposed the project in 2006.  

City Council member Len Torres, in answer to a question about the potential that the council may vote against a new beach restoration project, said: “We have a complete majority on having the work done by the Army Corps of Engineers.”

Of the other projects covered under the aid package, $750 million will be provided to rebuild the dunes and replenish the beaches from Fire Island to Montauk, and $2 million to address shoreline erosion at Asharoken, a village in the Town of Huntington.

If the Senate passes the $50.7 billion bill Monday, “the money can flow within a couple of months” for many of the projects, Schumer said. He noted that while plans for dredging have already been authorized, some of these projects may be held up due to lack of equipment.  

“We will work with the community to figure out a priority, which ones should go first, which are the most important, obviously Jones and Fire Island,” Schumer said.

Joanne J-Bird Phillips January 27, 2013 at 01:47 PM
The FEMA TSA program has been extended by 2 weeks in NY. FEMA hotel residents have to check out on Sunday, Feb. 10th.
Eddie January 27, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Another Shumer Sunday-morning-press-conference. How much did he raise my taxes today?
Carly January 28, 2013 at 06:06 PM
The article mentions that money has been allocated to elevate LB homes through FEMA, but the Building Dept in LB doesn't know anything about this, according to a recent phone call I made. Does anyone else?
Cassie Bellasante January 28, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Does anyone know what help this will do for small businesses? Sounds as if they will help small businesses get back up and running. Isn't this FEMA money? They don't help businesses.
ADNK January 28, 2013 at 08:25 PM
U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 113th Congress - 1st Session as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate Vote Summary Question: On Passage of the Bill (H.R. 152 ) Vote Number: 4 Vote Date: January 28, 2013, 06:09 PM Required For Majority: 3/5 Vote Result: Bill Passed Measure Number: H.R. 152 (Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 ) Measure Title: A bill making supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013, and for other purposes. Vote Counts: YEAs 62 NAYs 36 Not Voting 2 Voting AGAINST Sandy funding:(all Republicans) Ayotte (R-NH) Barrasso (R-WY) Blunt (R-MO) Boozman (R-AR) Burr (R-NC) Chambliss (R-GA) Coats (R-IN) Coburn (R-OK) Corker (R-TN) Cornyn (R-TX) Crapo (R-ID) Cruz (R-TX) Enzi (R-WY) Fischer (R-NE) Flake (R-AZ) Graham (R-SC) Grassley (R-IA) Hatch (R-UT) Inhofe (R-OK) Isakson (R-GA) Johanns (R-NE) Johnson (R-WI) Kirk (R-IL) Lee (R-UT) McCain (R-AZ) McConnell (R-KY) Moran (R-KS) Paul (R-KY) Portman (R-OH) Risch (R-ID) Roberts (R-KS) Rubio (R-FL) Scott (R-SC) Sessions (R-AL) Thune (R-SD) Toomey (R-PA)
ADNK January 28, 2013 at 08:30 PM
36 Senators voted AGAINST Sandy funding. No Democrats.
Eddie January 28, 2013 at 09:29 PM
As I said, Democrats will vote any opportunity to spend money they don't have and raise my taxes.
Tonto Hertzberg January 28, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Remember that EVERY rat that voted against the Sandy relief bill were GOP..............every f**king one of them.
Matt Markell January 28, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Eddie, First I'd like to establish that I am neither Repulican nor Democrat. I judge a candidate on the merits of his/her accomplishments. With that in mind, who was it that had a generator expedited here to get our sewers working again after Sandy? And all you can come up with is the allegation that he might have raised your taxes? Sir, you have established yourself a fool and arguing with you would be, for want of a better word, foolish!
Tonto Hertzberg January 28, 2013 at 11:22 PM
remember............it was the god damned republicans that started prohibition.............ruined a great time............bastards


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