President Barack Obama requested Friday that Congress authorize $60.4 billion in emergency spending to help the states hit by the supers-storm Sandy in late October.
A House Democratic aide told NBC News that they "even though it's reasonable, we don't expect Republicans to just hand it over. We're going to have to fight for it."
Some congressional Republicans have said that the money spent on Sandy ought to be offset with spending cuts in other parts of the federal budget; most Democrats do not seek offsets.
In a joint statement, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., co-chairs of the bipartisan congressional task force on recovering from Tropical Sandy, praised Obama's request. "While more may be needed in the long term, this robust package is a major first step that we will work to pass as quickly as possible in Congress to help devastated communities, families and businesses."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y. said Thursday that Congress ought to approve the emergency spending for recovery from the storm in a separate bill, not as part of the year-end "fiscal cliff" package which Obama and congressional leaders are negotiating.
"Disaster aid has never been part of any kind of deficit reduction plan.... It's a one-time allocation and you don't need it after that. We prefer to keep it separate and I think that's the White House plan," Schumer told reporters in a briefing with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D- Ill.
At a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing Thursday, Sen. Robert Menendez, D- N.J. made the case that New Jersey had supported other states when they were recovering from natural disasters and now New Jersey deserves commensurate help from them.
“When we had Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana, I was there,” Menendez told HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, who is leading the administration’s Sandy recovery initiative. “When we had tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, I was there. When we had flooding along the Mississippi, I was there….. Because I believe this is the United States of America. So I fully expect that now that now for the first time we have the type of devastation that others have suffered and should understand that we're going to have the type of response that others have received.”
NBC’s Luke Russert contributed to this story