Senators want Obama to request more disaster funding for Hurricane Sandy

Senators from states hit hard by Hurricane Sandy on Tuesday wrote to President Obama asking him to request increased disaster funding from Congress.

Such a request is seen as a necessary first step for any action from Congress to address Sandy's devastation.

The members of the New York, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island delegations want Obama to request more disaster relief funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

They also call for “funding for critical disaster relief programs at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Small Business Administration."

“The amendment should also include funding for damage to federal assets in our states and expenses for federal agencies, where appropriate,” the letter states.

FEMA’s disaster relief fund was stocked with $7.1 billion at the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1. Under the August 2011 debt-ceiling deal, it can be given $5 billion more without needing to offset the spending with cuts elsewhere or tax increases. Higher funding could require a revision to the debt-ceiling deal's budget cap.

House Republicans have said that until the administration and FEMA requests more money, it is not appropriate to move a supplemental appropriations bill providing more funding.

The supplemental spending bill will have to originate in the House according to congressional rules.

A Senate Democratic appropriations staffer on Tuesday indicated more spending has the support of Senate Democrats once the House acts. 

"We recognize that the tragedy will require additional resources and we will plan to work with the Administration and all Members on meeting those needs once requirements have been determined," the staffer said.

The senators' letter doesn’t specify a funding level, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has sought $30 billion in disaster aid for his state alone. Total economic damage from Hurricane Sandy has been estimated to be as much as $50 billion, according to the monitoring group Eqecat.

The letter was signed by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Crying on TV doesn't qualify Kimmel to set nation's gun agenda Trump knocks ‘fake’ news coverage of his trip to Puerto Rico MORE (D-N.Y.), Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible Poll: Most in NJ want Menendez to resign if found guilty MORE (D-N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick MORE (D-N.Y.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick Infrastructure spending bill sliding down agenda MORE (D-Del.), Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsThis week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Lift the Jones Act and similar restrictions for humanitarian crises Overnight Tech: White House unveils tech education initiative | Bannon reportedly sought to spy on Facebook | Uber CEO to appeal London ban | John Oliver rips AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Del.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: EPA aims to work more closely with industry Overnight Finance: Lawmakers grill Equifax chief over hack | Wells Fargo CEO defends bank's progress | Trump jokes Puerto Rico threw budget 'out of whack' | Mortgage tax fight tests industry clout Lawmakers try again on miners’ pension bill MORE III (D-W.Va.), John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiGore wishes Mikulski a happy birthday at 'Inconvenient Sequel' premiere Bipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day MORE (D-Md.), Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Raymond ReedTop general says Iran complying with nuclear deal Top general: Transgender troops shouldn't be separated from military Dems ask FEC to create new rules in response to Russian Facebook ads MORE (D-R.I.), and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDem senator: 'How many lives must be lost before we act?' Sen. Manchin won’t vote for Trump’s mine safety nominee Overnight Regulation: SEC chief grilled over hack | Dems urge Labor chief to keep Obama overtime rule | Russia threatens Facebook over data storage law MORE (D-R.I.).

This story was updated at 4:18 p.m.