Key Democratic senator pushing for Sandy supplemental spending bill

The chances of the lame-duck Congress dealing with a fight over added spending for Hurricane Sandy appears to be increasing.

The senator in charge of spending for the Department of Homeland Security is now pushing for a supplemental appropriations bill to pay for the disaster.

{mosads}Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who heads the Senate Appropriations homeland security subcommittee believes “there needs to be a supplemental appropriations bill to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” an aide said Friday.

The aide said it is not yet clear if the push for a supplemental will come in the lame duck or next year.

Landrieu believes that while the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund is currently flush with $7.5 billion in cash –and can get $5 billion more under the August 2011 debt deal– other disaster response is lacking.

The aide said the bill would focus on Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Agriculture and Army Corps of Engineers spending.

On Friday, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) introduced a bill in the House calling for $12 billion in new FEMA funding.

The Democratic push for spending could put Congress on a collision course. This week the office of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said that moving a bill now is “premature” while assessments from Hurricane Sandy are still being made.

Moody’s Analytics and Eqecat this week estimated as much as $50 billion in economic damage from Sandy, which would make it the costliest hurricane to hit the U.S. other than Hurricane Katrina, which decimated New Orleans in 2005.

The federal government is currently running on a six-month continuing resolution under a carefully negotiated spending cap from the August 2011 debt deal. None of the 12 annual appropriations bills were passed and some or all will have to be contended with by the end of March.

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