ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut on Thursday issued a powerful plea to Congress: Don't leave for the holidays until you decide on aid for states battered by Superstorm Sandy.
Joining the effort were more than 125 prominent CEOs based in New York who also urged Congress to quickly pass a $60 billion aid package.
Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Dannel Malloy of Connecticut said no region or state should have to stand alone after a disaster. They say Congress hasn't acted in seven weeks following Sandy, taking longer to provide aid than in previous disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
"Storms and disasters lay waste to communities and deliver damage far beyond the resources and capacity of any single state to recover on its own," wrote Cuomo and Malloy, both Democrats, and Christie, a Republican. "This is why Congress has always come to the assistance of Americans facing a recovery effort of this scale."
The governors made their case in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.
"Americans come together in times of crisis," they wrote. "Our states have stood with your communities when they suffered and faced devastation. It's time for Congress to stand with us."
The CEOS backing the aid include top executives of Time Warner, NBC Universal, Bloomberg, Morgan Stanley, Madison Square Garden and the National Basketball Association. Many of the companies are major media outlets and campaign contributors.
"This region is the most critical platform for American business and the largest contributor to federal tax revenues," the CEOs wrote in a letter to congressional leaders sent by The Partnership for New York City, a business advocacy group. "We believe that failure to expeditiously fund storm relief and recovery will severely weaken this region and worsen our nation's overall fiscal condition."
President Barack Obama a week ago proposed $60.4 billion for the states, about three-quarters of what they requested.
Now it's in the hands of Congress, which is already in a budget battle to cut spending by Jan. 1.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., is pushing the aid request in the Republican House and told The Associated Press in an interview that the high-stakes budget negotiations already under way when Sandy hit made the requests more challenging.
"I'm still reasonably confident we can do this, but it is a concern," King said. "But the governors raise a good wake-up call."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the aid package should be a bipartisan priority.
"Before we leave this year, we must act to provide emergency disaster aid to fund the response to Superstorm Sandy," Schumer said at a news conference of Senate leaders Thursday, a day after a televised fundraising concert. "Last night, 2 billion people around the world tuned into a benefit concert to help raise money for the Sandy relief efforts."
The governors said their states' legislators had supported aid after previous disasters.
"They did so in the spirit of compassion, recognizing that in times of crisis no region, state or single American should have to stand alone or be left to fend for themselves," they wrote.
Also Thursday, a bipartisan group of U.S. representatives from the three states proposed a package of tax breaks that would, among other things, allow loans to cover damage up to $100,000 from a taxpayer's IRA or 401(k) without penalty as long as the money is repaid within three years. Other provisions are aimed at boosting charitable giving and housing assistance and at rebuilding municipal infrastructure.
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