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U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.. (American Press Archives)

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.. (American Press Archives)

Editorial: Landrieu leads charge for hurricane relief

Last Modified: Friday, January 04, 2013 5:25 PM

Residents in the Northeast learned the hard way what we who live along the Gulf Coast have known for decades: hurricanes can be brutal and recovery is a costly item.

Hurricane Sandy, which cut a side swath through New York, New Jersey and other states along and near the upper Eastern Seaboard in late October, provided that lesson to millions who had never experienced the destructive power of such a large storm.

U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who knows all too well about how expensive recovery from a storm can be, is leading the fight for funding via a $60.4 billion supplemental spending bill.

‘‘I’m not sure the public understands how devastating the storm has been for a very important part of the country,’’ she said.

Landrieu said Sandy destroyed twice as many homes as Hurricane Katrina did in 2005 because of the dense population in the Northeast.

Some conservative groups have criticized the relief bill, saying it spends too much on pork projects. They’ve complained about appropriations like $100 million for Head Start centers, $348 million to repair damage at parks, including the Statue of Liberty’s island, and $150 million for fisheries disasters in New England, Alaska and the Gulf Coast.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., acknowledged that the relief is needed but added, ‘‘... we cannot consider this in a vacuum. We’re looking at a $17 trillion national debt.’’

‘‘There are provisions in this bill that have nothing to do with Sandy and many programs in this bill that do not event take effect until 2015,’’ he said. ‘‘At some point we’re going to run out of Chinese money. At some point we’re going to end up like Greece.’’

McCain said tough decisions must be made.

Landrieu said the bill also provides relief for some areas of the Midwest that suffered flooding earlier this year. She noted that the original bill had requested $90 billion in relief spending.

She said opponents should offer amendments, the bill should be debated and modifications can be made.

But she said some senators will oppose the bill no matter its final outcome.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., said Congress needs to act quickly to get aid directly to Sandy’s victims, but added that it needs to be done in a ‘‘thoughtful and responsible way with the taxpayers in mind.’’

And therein lies the rub — appropriating money to help in the recovery from the storm without loading down the bill with pork spending.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.

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