State political and business leaders called on anyone who can Friday to use their contacts and influence to help pass the $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy federal aid bill proposed by the White House, which they said will face strong opposition in Congress. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
Governor Andrew Cuomo convened a meeting Friday of corporate CEOs and labor leaders. He is employing their help in leaning on congress to pass the $60 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package. Its prospects are now looking grim, at least before the end of the year.
"We have reason to believe that it is going to be a challenge to get it passed, especially in the House, so we discussed that," Cuomo said.
The governor and the business community are also looking for support from the public.
"I plead with all of us to pick up the phone and let them know how critical this mission is," said Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot. "And we all have to do our part."
It took the federal government just two weeks to approve aid for the Gulf after Hurricane Katrina. But some say it's a much different fiscal climate now, which is complicated by contentious fiscal cliff negotiations.
"We have a good number of people in the House and Senate, recent, who really don't believe that the federal government should extend its hand in disasters," said Senator Chuck Schumer. "That is a break with 100 years of policy."
The Senate will take up the bill on Monday, but amendments will likely be added. It's not clear at this point if it will even come up for a vote in the House before lawmakers break for the holidays.
"The true enormity of what happened to New York and New Jersey is not yet known by the rest of the country," said Rep. Peter King. "Somehow, they feel it's is behind us, it's been taken care of."
There is also talk of reducing the size of the aid package or doling it out in pieces over several months.
"Some people say 'give it to me right away,'" Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday. "Well, if they did that, I'm not so sure we as Americans should be happy."
People familiar with the negotiations said they do not want this to drag into next year. The worry is that the further they get away from it, the less urgent it seems, which is why they are urging its passage before the December 31 deadline.