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Sen. Lautenberg, Co-Author of Sandy Recovery Package, Announces Senate Passage & Urges House Passage
LARGEST DISASTER RELIEF BILL TO PASS THE SENATE SINCE HURRICANE KATRINA; NEW JERSEY COMMUNITIES TO BENEFIT FROM STRONGER DUNES, IMPROVED BEACH PROTECTIONS; LEGISLATION MAKES $17B IN GRANTS AVAILABLE TO SMALL BUSINESSES, HOMEOWNERS, COMMUNITIES; TRANSIT FUNDING WILL HELP REBUILD, MODERNIZE PASSENGER RAIL SERVICELautenberg Press Office 202-834-4462
Friday, December 28, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), a main architect of the Senate Sandy emergency supplemental funding bill, today announced passage of a $60.4 billion bill to help residents, homeowners, businesses, and local governments affected by Superstorm Sandy. As Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Lautenberg worked to ensure the federal funding can be used to not only rebuild—but strengthen New Jersey’s beaches, transportation systems, and other infrastructure so that future damage can be avoided. The legislation now must be approved in the House before going to the President to be signed into law.
“This bill is a winner for New Jersey, and today’s Senate vote demonstrates national support for the recovery efforts in our state and throughout the region to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy,” Lautenberg said. “This emergency aid will go a long way to help New Jersey residents and businesses and strengthen our state’s beautiful shore and critical transportation network. The rebuilding period following a natural disaster is a critical time to build stronger and smarter, so that we can minimize the damage when the next storm strikes. In New Jersey, our beaches are our levees, and we must ensure they are strong enough to protect us from extreme weather events."
“At a time when bipartisanship is in short supply, Senators on both sides of the aisle were able to agree on providing critical aid to the families and communities that were devastated by Superstorm Sandy. This bill will breathe new life into recovery efforts in New Jersey and across the region. Now it’s up to the House to quickly take up and pass this bipartisan bill,” Lautenberg concluded.
Sen. Lautenberg worked to include a number of funding components in the bill that will help New Jersey, including:
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – The bill provides $17 billion in CDBG funding, which is the largest ever appropriation of CDBG funding. CDBG funding can be used for a number of purposes, including:
· Support for damage not covered by FEMA, the Small Business Administration, or insurance;
· Federal grants for rebuilding destroyed homes and repairing damage;
· Federal grants to support small businesses;
· Rebuilding various types of public infrastructure including schools, hospitals and buildings;
· Improving utilities’ power infrastructure; and
· Buying out or elevating homes.
Reducing the State and Local Share of Recovery Costs – To help ease the cost of recovery for state and local governments, the bill reduces the Army Corps non-federal cost share from 35% to 10%, and reduces the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) state cost share from 20% to 10%.
Although not part of the bill, Lautenberg and others are working to ensure that cost shares for local governments will be reduced from 25% to 10% for FEMA disaster recovery funds as soon as a minimum statewide damage threshold is reached.
Army Corps – The bill provides $5.3 billion total for Army Corps flood control and beach replenishment projects, including $2.9 billion specifically for affected areas along the Atlantic Coast to build projects to protect against future storms, and $430 million to repair and improve flood control projects above and beyond pre-storm conditions. Typically the Army Corps is allowed to merely repair damage, not improve projects. Senator Lautenberg fought to ensure New Jersey’s first line of protection from storms would be strengthened.
Transportation – The bill provides $12 billion total for transportation programs, including:
· $10.7 billion for public transportation repairs and mitigation efforts to strengthen and improve NJ Transit and Port Authority infrastructure;
· $921 million for highway repairs; and
· $336 million to help Amtrak make repairs and take action to mitigate future storm-related problems and advance a new system of redundancy for when a tunnel experiences flooding.
Clean Water Infrastructure –The bill provides $810 million to repair and improve clean water infrastructure, including New Jersey water treatment plants like the Passaic Valley Water Commission and the Middlesex County Utilities Authority, which sustained major damage during Superstorm Sandy.
Health and Education –The bill provides $800 million for hospitals, health centers, and educational services, including:
· $500 million for health and social services, including repairing health care and child services facilities;
· $100 million for Head Start to repair its facilities and replace damaged equipment; and
· $200 million to support health services and medical research by replacing scientific equipment, restarting clinical trials, and rebuilding labs of researchers and universities.
Fisheries –To help fishing businesses and fishing infrastructure and equipment damaged by Sandy and other disasters, the bill provides $150 million. New Jersey fishing communities lost business revenue and suffered severe damage to property, equipment, and infrastructure.
NOAA and Coast Guard – The bill provides $280 million to repair NOAA facilities, including the Sandy Hook lab, and to repair Coast Guard infrastructure and assets damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
Toxic Superfund Sites – The bill provides $2 million to repair damage at Superfund sites, including Raritan Bay Slag, Atlantic Resources in Sayreville, and Horseshoe Road in Sayreville.
National Flood Insurance Program – The bill allows FEMA to pay an additional $9.7 billion from the National Flood Insurance Program on flood insurance claims.