Runyan Tells O-C Mayors What’s in Sandy Disaster Bill
As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the over $50 billion dollar Sandy disaster relief bill today, shore Congressman John Runyan (R) came to Toms River to give Ocean County mayors an idea on the steps being taken to ensure that as much funding as possible actually goes toward Sandy relief efforts.
Runyan says North Jersey Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen was instrumental in helping to get billions of dollars in earmarks placed in there by the Senate, removed from the disaster aid measure and redirected toward Sandy relief and he says "we've tried to do what we can in the House to make sure in our language saying that it has to be Sandy-related, they don't let you do that in an appropriations bill, they allowed it to happen on numerous occasions in this bill."
However, the 3rd Congressional District representative says beach storm protection work is also considered an earmark and bypassing the language had to come from the White House. Runyan says they were able to get White House approval to include a $750 million earmark so the Army Corps of Engineers can restore Sandy destroyed beaches and dunes.
Runyan expressed concern about easements, telling the Mayors that the money allowed for beach replenishment can not be used unless they obtain signed easements from beach front property owners.
He says the spending package also contains additional money for FEMA and the SBA, for infrastructure repair projects and block grants.
Runyan says they were also able to get a waiver for mitigation projects that exceed original estimates. He says the original language said "if the project was 20 percent above the original cost estimate, that it would have to be re-approved but they waived that. So, if the mitigation cost comes in above that ... they can still come in and fix that."
This would be the second vote by the Senate on the measure because it was altered by Congress. The original disaster aid package passed swiftly through the Senate late last year. President Obama says he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.