New York senator issues warning on Sandy relief

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As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Washington to lobby for $32.8 billion in federal disaster aid — and an additional $9.1 billion for infrastructure protections from future storms — U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer issued a warning for lawmakers who don’t step up for the storm-battered region.

“Our colleagues are aware that if they are not fair to New York, New Jersey and the Northeast, if disaster hits their area next time … that could boomerang on them,” the New York Democrat said Monday, according to the New York Daily News.

Schumer’s comments were his sternest yet on the consequences of slicing New York’s $42 billion aid request or attaching requirements known as offsets that would force the government to find a dollar to cut from the budget for every dollar appropriated for disaster relief.

House Republicans have called for all new spending to be balanced with offsets, but Schumer warned that such hardline politics could “set a precedent” that Republicans might regret. New York has had the backs of other states hit by natural disasters ranging from Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast to tornadoes in Missouri, Schumer said, “And now we need you.”

Cuomo acknowledged that the state faces an uphill battle to wrangle all of the money from Congress, but said he’s upbeat about the state’s chances. He said he got a message of support from House Speaker John Boehner.

“He was positive and I think it’s safe to say he was optimistic,” the Daily News quoted Cuomo as saying. “He wants to be supportive. … He understands the damage that was done.”

Boehner is waiting for President Obama to provide a specific funding proposal, Cuomo said. After avoiding Washington to mute speculation of a potential 2016 presidential run, Cuomo started his trip at the White House, where he met with members of Obama’s staff.

Cuomo and Schumer said it’s important to get a deal before the end of the year. Cuomo raised eyebrows last week when he didn’t commit to visiting Washington after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the trip without him. Cuomo said Monday that he decided to go after he met with the congressional delegation to go over the specifics of his request.

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