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Senate GOP to Propose Alternative Bill for Sandy Rebuilding Aid

Source: Dow Jones

Posted on 21 Dec 2012 by Neilson

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Senate GOP and disaster packageSenate Republicans will soon propose a $24 billion aid package for superstorm Sandy rebuilding efforts as an alternative to the $60 billion plan being pressed by Senate Democrats.

Sen. Dan Coats (R., Ind.), the principal author of the bill, said the Republican bill limits spending to damage related to the storm, cutting long-term funding plans in the broader bill aimed at better preparing the East Coast for a future weather event.

"If we're going to be responsible at this time of austerity, we need to vet these things very carefully to make sure every dollar is spent the right way," Mr. Coats said in an interview. "This meets the emergency needs that we know have been documented."

Senate Republicans had already indicated they might pursue a pared-down package rather than sign onto the larger effort, potentially delaying aid sought by governors and lawmakers from the region.

A Senate Democratic aide said Democrats will pursue "an all or nothing strategy" on their disaster relief bill, despite the Republican effort to aim for a smaller bill. It's not clear whether the Senate can overcome disagreement on the scope of the aid. The Senate is already debating Sandy aid with the goal of holding a final vote by Friday.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) has said he wasn't open to reducing the spending bill's size and expressed confidence in its passage.

"We'll get enough votes because there's enough sympathy from people in disaster-prone areas," he said. "We are not going to go sit down with someone and cut it further."