Schumer says Sandy recovery bill includes 'mitigation,' not stimulus

The Obama administration has called for $60.4 billion and the Senate version fulfills that request. Republicans have questioned why there is some money for things such as Head Start centers, transportation improvements and park clean up, among others. But Schumer said those programs were needed in the northeast, which was hit hard by Sandy in October.

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“I say to my colleagues, if you can find stuff that’s not disaster related in here, that is a legitimate argument and we’ll look more closely at those,” Schumer said. “We have to simultaneously build but we also have to protect from future storms … We can either invest in future protections now or pay more later.”

Some Republicans have also called for offsetting the spending, which Schumer called “unprecedented.”

“If your area is hit next and you have to wait while Congress argues offsets, that would be a terrible precedent,” Schumer said.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is managing the amendment process for the bill, which would be sent to conference committee with the House if passed by the Senate, echoed the same points Schumer made.

“These are emergencies, that’s why they’re called emergencies. That’s why we don’t do offsets for emergencies,” Leahy said. “I’ve also heard, let’s do a little and come back next year. Talk to the person whose house has been destroyed — tell them. Tell them, we think you should wait and come back later next year. I would defy a member of this body to say that to one of the firefighters who saw their home destroyed.”