Sandy Aid Delay Could Be Deadly For Shore Businesses [AUDIO]
After initial delay the House of Representatives voted in favor of a 9.7 billion dollar Sandy Flood Aid Bill, the first part of the 60 billion dollars in total Sandy Aid requested by the President and Senate.
Is this effort too little too late?
The vote comes days after House Speaker John Boehner tabled the original bill, agreeing to bring the majority of the money back up for a vote mid January. Congressman Frank Palone says if the bill was originally voted on when it was supposed to, “it would already be on the President’s desk”. Instead Pallone laments even if the money does eventually get to the people and businesses it could already be too late.
“In the case of Katrina, within two weeks they had a sixty billion dollar relief package. Now we’re talking nine weeks and we still don’t have anything.”
Seaside Heights restaurant and nightlife hotspot Hemmingway’s Café is one of the businesses rebuilding after the storm. While the business managed to escape without significant damage and will reopen January 18th, general manager PJ Aliseo says many businesses still have tens of thousands of dollars in damage which they have no way of repairing.
“A lot of these places are mom and pop places, and they don’t have the funds to reopen and they really do need the federal help.”
With the summer season only lasting three months, Aliseo says many businesses have a very limited time span to make their yearly profits. Even if the aid comes late it could cause them to not open in time.
“In certain circumstances you’re talking about making or breaking a place, closing your doors and closing up shop.”
He adds that in many cases, if a business isn’t open during the two month summer height of summer, “they’re not opening again.”
After it was postponed by speaker Boehner, the original 60 billion dollar Sandy Aid bill was split into three separate votes. The 9.7 billion dollar Flood Aid measure that passed the House 354-67 was brought up to a vote Friday January 4th. However the remaining 51 billion dollars will be split into two remaining votes. Pallone says when all is said and done the money could arrive at best in February, or longer.
The Democrat blames inter-party squabbling from the GOP for the hold up, claiming he believes there is a negative perception amongst Republicans of the states hit by Sandy.
“I really believe that because it was New York and New Jersey the Republican leadership sees those as blue states and isn’t going to go out of their way to help us out.”
He notes, every day the money is necessary because right now FEMA only offers emergency funds for housing, food, or other immediate expenses.