WASHINGTON — A New York Congressman warned Thursday that a $1 billion cut to Sandy relief funding would be "a disaster" if it is allowed to happen as part of broad mandatory spending cuts set to take effect.
"I think it would be a disaster if it were to go into effect," New York Rep. Peter King, a Republican, said.
He added with a laugh, "Republicans are unpopular enough in New York without this happening."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that the mandatory spending cuts set to take effect March 1, known as the "sequester," would likely splice more than $1 billion from its disaster relief fund. The fund has supplied money to a range of Sandy recovery efforts.
Although Congress recently approved an extra $61 billion in relief funding for states impacted by Sandy, King said any additional cuts would have a tangible, adverse effect.
"You're talking about taking a lot of money out," King said. Every dollar counts. People think the $61 billion was a lot, but even that was not all that we needed. In the real world, you take what you get, but to lose — I don't know how much it's going to be, we're still trying to compute it, but it'll have a real impact. These are real people with real suffering going on."
The sequester has been disowned and opposed by lawmakers of both parties, but the sentiment beginning to pervade the Hill is that replacement legislation won't be approved in time to prevent it.
"To me, it's a crazy way to do business," King said. "And it seems to me it's just on cruise control right now, no one's doing anything to stop it."