By Art Gallagher, [email protected]
The Obama Administration is considering holding a contest for areas impacted by disasters other than Superstorm Sandy. The “winners” would get between $1 billion and $2 billion of the remaining $3.6 billion is Sandy relief dollars being doled out by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), according to a story first reported by the Wall Street Journal
The Record reports that New Jersey Congressmen Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson; Albio Sires, D-West New York; and Frank Pallone, D-Long Branch, and Sen. Bob Menendez are urging HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan not to divert federal aid to projects in other parts of the country. Members of the New York Congressional Delegation are making similar pleas.
Where’s Senator Cory Booker? He’s proselytizing on twitter.
Sires told The Record that the entire New Jersey delegation could join together in opposition to a nationwide contest for the money. That would be great! Sires should lead the Democrats in the delegation in ending the partisanship that has been dominating the discourse over Sandy recovery and sign the letter to Donovan and Michael Boots, the Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality that Congressman Chris Smith invited him, and all members of the delegation to sign requesting a meeting to hash out the multitude of issues New Jersey residents are having with the HUD relief process.
Smith spoke out against the proposed diversion of Sandy funds and reiterated his request for a meeting with HUD and the White House.
“Make no mistake, New Jersey citizens are still struggling—thousands are waiting for federal funding to rebuild, repair and get back into their homes.
“Just last week, I spearheaded a congressional delegation effort writing to President Obama’s Sandy taskforce chairman, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and his counterpart in the White House, Michael Boots, requesting a meeting to discuss and find ways to mitigate the ongoing delays in providing assistance to NJ Sandy victims. A group of us—NJ state legislators and many of my colleagues in congress—are concerned about the slow pace of distribution of funds thus far and the plans for the remaining federal aid.
“The Administration needs to work along with the NJ congressional delegation and NJ lawmakers so that together we can find ways to get more support to NJ residents in a faster timeframe. Hopefully our meeting will be a major step in that direction.”
The entire New Jersey and New York delegations should put their partisan differences aside and join together in urging the Obama Administration to stop playing politics with the lives and livelihoods of the victims of Superstorm Sandy.