Reid Says Obama to Request About $60 Billion in Sandy Aid

Reid Says Obama to Request About $60 Billion in Sandy Assistance
US President Barack Obama and New Jersey governor Chris Christie visits a neighborhood on October 31, 2012 in Brigantine, New Jersey, hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Photographer: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

President Barack Obama will request about $60 billion for cleanup efforts related to superstorm Sandy, the Senate’s top Democrat said.

The request for $60 billion “give or take a few bucks,” may come as soon as tomorrow, Majority Leader Harry Reid said in an interview today. Reid said he didn’t believe the aid needed to be financed with savings elsewhere in the government’s budget.

The request will come at a politically awkward time for lawmakers because they are struggling to reach a budget-cutting agreement to stave off more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts set to begin next month.

It also raises the prospect of a replay of a budget battle last year in which House Republicans threatened a government shutdown because legislation including aid to victims of Hurricane Irene and other natural disasters was not offset.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner declined to say whether he believes the funding will have to be offset.

“We are awaiting the request from the Obama administration and will evaluate it once it is received,” said Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as well as his counterparts in New Jersey and Connecticut, Chris Christie and Dannel Malloy, have been pushing lawmakers for almost $83 billion in aid.

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