Alaska provisions in a relief bill for states affected by Hurricane Sandy are coming under scrutiny.
Some senior Republican senators want to strip aid for the fishery disaster.
The bill is a priority of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He says Senators must understand the upper-chamber will not recess for Christmas until the relief package is finished.
“We have the opportunity to help make families and communities whole again. I hope my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join in moving aid quickly to those affected by Sandy as they continue to recover and rebuild,” Reid said on the Senate floor on Monday.
The problem is, not all of the money is pegged for Sandy.
Arizona Senator John McCain says he wants the Senate to vote to include or strip the $150 million allocated for fishery disasters.
The money would go to Alaska, states in the Northeast and the Gulf Coast.
And none of it, says McCain, meets muster.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with a bill that’s supposed to repair the damage done by a Hurricane on the East Coast,” McCain said.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration approved the three regions that would receive the money.
The fishery disaster declared in the Northeast was for damage not yet done. Senator Lisa Murkowski says Alaska’s need is more pressing.
She says the appropriations committee is determining levels of damage – designating regions as in need of immediate help, help in the near-term, or money down the road.
“If the need is now, if those families are hurting, and the need is now, let’s figure out a way to provide for that relief,” Murkowski said.
Conservative groups are now coming out against the aid bill, saying it sends too much money to too many projects that aren’t in immediate need.
- So far, the Juneau School District has enrolled about 230 more students than it expected. If the higher enrollment remains true in October, the district could get enough additional state funding to cover a near $200,000 deficit.
- Juneau-based nonprofit, Southeast Alaska Land Trust, was denied its property tax exemption earlier this year. Now the Assembly will take another look.
- "A lot of ice experts, including myself, thought we were headed for a record year minimum," said Hajo Eicken, a professor at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.