(Reuters) — The White House is expected in the coming days to send Congress a multibillion-dollar request to fund recovery from Superstorm Sandy, which caused an estimated $71 billion in damages in New York and New Jersey.
Congressional aides said there was no clear indication of the request’s size, but some said it would likely be at least $11 billion.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund had access to about $7.8 billion as Sandy slammed the U.S. East Coast on Oct. 29, causing widespread destruction in coastal New York and New Jersey.
Lawmakers and analysts also said Congress will need to shore up the heavily indebted National Flood Insurance Program in the face of $12 billion in payouts resulting from Sandy, ranked as the second-worst disaster in U.S. history.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., asked about the additional Sandy funding request, said: “Well, we can’t do anything with the disaster aid package until we get something from the White House, and I’m told that will be here as early as tomorrow or the next day.”
A White House official declined to provide any details about the administration’s plans. “We are working closely with our partners in the states and in Congress, but it’s premature to speculate on specific actions as we work to ensure the governors have the necessary support,” the official said.
Lawmakers from both parties have voiced support for providing additional disaster relief in Sandy’s wake, but a massive funding request from President Barack Obama could be disruptive to already tense negotiations over year-end tax hikes and automatic spending cuts.
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