Washington : President Barack Obama Friday asked Congress to approve $60.4 billion in additional federal funds for the recovery from Superstorm Sandy, which killed more than 130 people and caused massive damage when it slammed into the US in October.
The amount is less than the $82 billion requested by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Even so, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey’s Chris Christie welcomed the news. “We thank President Obama for his steadfast commitment of support and look forward to continuing our partnership in the recovery effort,” the two governors said in a joint statement.
Sandy is becoming the most expensive natural disaster to strike the US since Hurricane Katrina left most of New Orleans underwater in 2005.
The aid request comes as the White House and Republican congressional leaders are engaged in acrimonious talks over how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff – a set of spending cuts and tax hikes due to take effect Jan 1.
Middle class tax cuts
Meanwhile, Obama has also urged the Congress to extend the middle class tax cut that is set to end this month. He also said Republicans must ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates. In his weekly address to the nation, Obama said time is running out given that the middle-class tax cuts are set to expire before the year-end. “There are two things that can happen,” he said. “First, if Congress does nothing, every family in America will see their income taxes automatically go up on January 1. A typical middle-class family of four would get a USD 2,200 tax hike. That would be bad for families, it would be bad for businesses, and it would drag down our entire economy,” he said.
Obama said the Congress can avoid all this by passing a law that prevents a tax hike on the first USD 2,50,000 of everybody’s income. “That means 98 per cent of Americans and 97 per cent of small businesses wouldn’t see their income taxes go up by a single dime. Even the wealthiest Americans would get a tax cut on the first USD 250,000 of their income. And families everywhere would enjoy some peace of mind,” he said.
Noting that the Senate has already done their part, he said the Republicans who have majority in the House of Representatives must do the same thing.
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