Two months after Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of the Garden State, New Jersey officials and residents are still waiting for Congress to sign off on roughly $60 billion in emergency relief aid.
But after Hurricane Katrina pummeled New Orleans in August 2005, it only took 10 days for a similar level of federal aid to be approved for that disaster, according to U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.
Raising his voice, the New Jersey Democrat offered that comparison during a Dec. 27 speech on the Senate floor in regard to a $60.4 billion aid package for Sandy victims. The Senate approved the package Dec. 28, but the House has delayed action on the funding.
"I want my colleagues to remember that 10 days after Hurricane Katrina, this chamber passed two separate bills amounting to $60 billion," Menendez said. "It has been nearly two months since we had Superstorm Sandy and nothing has passed."
Menendez is right.
In the 10 days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana, the Republican-controlled Congress approved two bills providing $62.3 billion in emergency funding, and President George W. Bush immediately signed them into law.
In this fact-check, we’re not comparing the levels of damage caused by Katrina and Sandy. Our focus is on the timing of emergency appropriations approved by Congress.
Here’s how the timing breaks down:
Katrina made landfall Aug. 29, 2005, near Buras, La., and continued north toward New Orleans, leaving about 80 percent of the city flooded, according to a report from the National Hurricane Center.
On Sept. 2, 2005, Congress passed a bill to provide $10.5 billion in emergency funding for disaster relief related to Hurricane Katrina. Then, on Sept. 8, 2005, Congress passed another bill for an additional $51.8 billion in emergency appropriations.
So, 10 days after Katrina reached New Orleans, Congress had approved $62.3 billion in emergency funding.
Now, let’s talk about federal aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City on Oct. 29, ultimately damaging more than 70,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey alone, The Star-Ledger has reported. Parts of New York and Connecticut suffered extensive damage as well.
On Dec. 7, President Obama requested $60.4 billion in emergency appropriations to assist the states affected by Sandy. In a 62-32 vote on Dec. 28, the Democrat-controlled Senate approved that amount.
But around the same time when the GOP-led House passed legislation dealing with the so-called "fiscal cliff," Speaker John Boehner canceled a vote on the disaster relief Tuesday night.
Boehner is expected to schedule a vote tomorrow on $9 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program and another vote on Jan. 15 for the remaining $51 billion in the aid package.
In a Dec. 27 speech on the Senate floor, Menendez said that "10 days after Hurricane Katrina, this chamber passed two separate bills amounting to $60 billion. It has been nearly two months since we had Superstorm Sandy, and nothing has passed."
The senator’s claim is on the mark. Within 10 days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana in August 2005, Congress approved two separate bills providing a total of $62.3 billion in disaster relief funding.
The Senate on Dec. 28 approved a $60.4 billion aid package for Hurricane Sandy, but the House has delayed action on the emergency funding.
We rate the statement True.
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YouTube, Menendez Fights Republican Cuts to Sandy Relief Package on the Senate Floor, Dec. 28, 2012
Sen. Robert Menendez website, Menendez Lauds Senate Passage of $60.4 Billion Sandy Relief Package, Dec. 28, 2012
THOMAS, H.R. 3645 - Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs Arising From the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina, 2005, enacted Sept. 2, 2005
THOMAS, H.R. 3673 - Second Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Immediate Needs Arising From the Consequences of Hurricane Katrina, 2005, enacted Sept. 8, 2005
Congressional Research Service, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Hurricane Katrina Relief, Aug. 22, 2006
The Hill, House GOP eyes smaller Sandy bill, Dec. 30, 2012
Politico, House pulls plug on Sandy aid bill, Jan. 1, 2013
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U.S. Government Accountability Office, FEMA's Control Weaknesses Exposed the Government to Significant Fraud and Abuse, Feb. 13, 2006
U.S. Government Accountability Office, Improper and Potentially Fraudulent Individual Assistance Payments Estimated to Be Between $600 Million and $1.4 Billion, June 14, 2006
The Star-Ledger, N.J. Congressmen furious that Sandy relief package was not voted on, Jan. 2, 2013
Congressional Research Service, Disaster Relief Funding and Emergency Supplemental Appropriations, April 12, 2011
National Hurricane Center, Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Katrina, accessed Jan. 2, 2013
White House, Letter Regarding the Administration's Supplemental Request to Congress to Support Response, Recovery and Mitigation Related to Hurricane Sandy Damage in Affected States, Dec. 7, 2012
The Star-Ledger, Hurricane Sandy makes landfall near Atlantic City, Oct. 29, 2012
The Star-Ledger, Hurricane Sandy's destruction: Aerial assessment shows nearly 72K buildings damaged in N.J., Nov. 18, 2012
The Hill, Boehner committed to move Hurricane Sandy relief bill in January, Jan. 2, 2013
Associated Press, Rep. King Says Boehner Promises Sandy Aid Votes, Jan. 2, 2013
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