Lawmakers have returned to Capitol Hill for the start of the lame duck session and even with mounting financial problems and a growing scandal in the intelligence community, lawmakers from areas affected by Hurricane Sandy are hopeful securing more funds for relief efforts will be a priority. YNN's Erin Billups has more.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "New York has suffered huge losses, so we're gonna need all the help we can get," Senator Charles Schumer said.
While the federal government has already begun sending aid to New York and other states affected by Hurricane Sandy, lawmakers say much more will be needed.
"This federal government needs to have a more aggressive reaction to what took place there. What's happened so far has been great but to be able to sustain that is going to take a commitment from this Congress to make that happen,” said Queens Representative Joe Crowley. “Already we will have used all of FEMA's budget in the first quarter of this fiscal year."
FEMA has just about $7 billion dollars available in its disaster relief fund. Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York will need around $30 billion. This comes as lawmakers return to Capitol Hill, focused on averting the so-called fiscal cliff, a series of drastic automatic cuts and tax increases. Schumer says securing more aid will be a heavy lift.
"The House is controlled by republicans. They don't like any disaster aid and some of the programs need more money, so we'll do our best,” Schumer said. “But we don't want to give anyone the illusion that this is going to be very easy."
Already, a bi-partisan group of 44 House members has sent a letter to leadership asking them to support legislation that would appropriate more money for FEMA.
Crowley said, "The longer it takes for us to get on our feet in this area, the longer it will drag on our nation's economy, so it's in all of our interests."
Lawmakers in affected states have begun doing their own assessment of how much may be needed.
New York City's lone republican, Congressmen Michael Grimm, says if FEMA needs more money to help affected areas, he will work with his colleagues to make that happen.
"The election season is over and reasonable heads are going to sit down. I'm certainly one of those reasonably minded people that is willing to do what we have to do to," said Grimm.
Sources say it is up to the President to request more money for FEMA from Congress.
It is still unclear whether that is something the President plans to do.