GOP Offers Scaled-Back Emergency Aid Bill

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WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  U.S. Senate Republicans said they plan to offer a $23.8 billion emergency spending plan to help pay for recovery efforts of states ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The GOP move came as the chamber began debating a $60.4 billion aid bill sought by Democratic leaders who based their proposal on one President Obama sent to Congress about two weeks ago, The New York Times reported.

“This proposal is not even within the ballpark of what New York and New Jersey need,” Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the Republican proposal. “To provide just a quarter of what the states’ governors requested is nowhere near good enough, and will leave business owners, homeowners and municipalities that were devastated without the resources they need.”

“We welcome a vote, but it has no chance of passing the Senate,” Schumer said. “We will keep fighting until New York gets its fair share.”

Some Republicans have expressed concern the emergency aid package was put together without benefit of extended review, and consists of a few projects they say may not be needed, the Times said. Republicans also said federal aid should be distributed in installments instead of one lump sum since states can only spend so much money at one time.

Hurricane Sandy, which became a superstorm after making landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29, brought torrential rain, a storm surge, gusting winds and huge snowfall amounts as it moved inland. The storm has been blamed for more than 130 deaths.

Lloyd’s of London, a collection of about 80 competing insurance syndicates, gave a preliminary estimated of net claims from Sandy before taxes of between $2 billion and $2.5 billion from Sandy.

The range of the claims estimate is consistent with insurance industry losses of between $20 billion and $25 billion, the insurer said Wednesday in a release.

The insurance market said its exposure would not cause it financial stress.

“The Lloyd’s insurance market remains financially strong and, while claims from this storm could still evolve over time, the market’s total exposure is well within the worst case scenarios we model and prepare for,” Lloyd’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Ward said.

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