WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans on Wednesday proposed a $24 billion emergency aid package for Superstorm Sandy victims, less than half of what Democrats hope to pass by Christmas.
The GOP alternative bill would provide more than enough money to pay for immediate recovery efforts through the spring.
Republicans complain that the $60.4 billion Democratic bill being debated in the Senate is larded with money for projects unrelated to damage from the late October storm, which battered the Atlantic coastline from North Carolina to Maine.
The Republican version does not include $13 billion Democrats want for projects to protect against future storms, including fortification of mass transit systems in the Northeast and protecting vulnerable seaside areas by building jetties against storm surges.
Republicans said however worthy such projects may be, they are not urgently needed and should be considered by Congress in the usual appropriations process next year, not through emergency spending.
"We want to take care of urgent needs now," said Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations homeland security subcommittee, who put forward the bill. "We can look at other needs down the road when we have more time to look at them."