Friday, May 25, 2018
News Roundup

Senate approves $60.4 billion Sandy aid bill

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Friday approved a $60.4 billion emergency spending aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy that had been backed by Senate Democrats.

Democrats had to turn back Republican efforts to cut programs such as $150 million in fisheries aid that Republican lawmakers said was unrelated to the storm that hammered the East Coast late in October. The measure cleared the Senate on a 62-32 vote, with 12 Republicans supporting the bill. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., was the only Democrat to vote against the bill, but he later switched his vote to support the measure.

The bill faces uncertain prospects in the House, where GOP leaders appear reluctant to move quickly on a big spending bill in the final days of a lame duck session. Congress' attention is focused on talks about the so-called fiscal cliff of tax hikes and automatic spending cuts.

Sandy was blamed for at least 120 deaths and battered coastline areas from North Carolina to Maine. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the hardest hit states and suffered high winds, flooding and storm surges. Sandy damaged or destroyed more than 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey. In New York, 305,000 housing units were damaged or destroyed and more than 265,000 businesses were affected.

Senate Republicans failed on an amendment for a smaller package of about $24 billion in aid for Sandy, which was the most costly natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and one of the worst storms ever in the Northeast.

House GOP leaders have not said how they plan to proceed. But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky has said Congress should probably begin with a smaller aid package for immediate recovery needs and wait until more data can be collected about storm damage before approving additional money next year.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee and a leading House fiscal conservative, has criticized the Democratic bill as "packed with funding for unrelated items, such as commercial fisheries in American Samoa and roof repair of museums in Washington, D.C."

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., urged House leaders to "put this bill on the floor quickly and allow a vote." If the House balks, Schumer said, the Senate bill provides "very good groundwork" for seeking Sandy aid next year.

The measure includes $11.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's chief disaster relief fund and $17 billion for community development block grants, much of which would help homeowners repair or replace their homes. Another $11.7 billion would help repair New York City's subways and other mass transit and protect them from future storms. Some $9.7 billion would go toward the government's flood insurance program.

Senate Republicans said much of the spending in the Democratic bill was for projects unrelated to Sandy, such as $150 million for fisheries disasters that could go to Alaska, as well as Gulf Coast and New England states. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to strip the fisheries funding, but his amendment failed.

To court votes, Democrats last week broadened some of their bill's provisions to cover damage from Hurricane Isaac, which struck the Gulf Coast earlier this year. A provision was added to the $2.9 billion allotted to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects to reduce future flooding risks; the coverage area for that program will now include areas hit by Isaac, in addition to those hit by Sandy.

Comments
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Five members of 69ers motorcycle gang indicted on federal charges

Last year three members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club gang were implicated in the execution of a rival gang leader in the middle of rush hour traffic in Pasco County.Now those three and two other 69ers members have been indicted on federal charges tha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sparks fly among Hillsborough School Board members as private messages are leaked

Sparks fly among Hillsborough School Board members as private messages are leaked

TAMPA ó Somebody got into Hillsborough County School Board member Melissa Snivelyís Facebook account, copied her messages and gave them to a newspaper publisher who is a friend of her rivals on the board.The posts discussed politics and power struggl...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Raccoon bites bicyclist, now the Health Department is looking for the victim

TAMPA ó A bicyclist in the Palm River area was bitten by a raccoon Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County said.Now the department is concerned the animal had rabies and is searching for the bicyclist."While it is impo...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Meet your unwelcome Memorial Day guest: Subtropical Storm Alberto

Meet your unwelcome Memorial Day guest: Subtropical Storm Alberto

It has a name.Subtropical Storm Alberto is crawling into the Gulf of Mexico, an unwelcome guest arriving a week before the official start of hurricane season.The system, which became the first named storm of the year Friday, could bring five inches o...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Jury deliberating in trial accusing Hernando deputies of abuse

Jury deliberating in trial accusing Hernando deputies of abuse

TAMPA ó Michael Bratt told a story.He said that Hernando County sheriffís deputies attacked him in his home early one morning eight years ago, beat him severely on his front lawn, and continued the assault as they took him to a hospital.But another s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Mom service dog has puppies in Tampa airport, while dad service dog looks on

Mom service dog has puppies in Tampa airport, while dad service dog looks on

TAMPA — Travelers killing time at Tampa International Airport’s Gasparilla Bar got an unexpected show Friday when a dog gave birth to eight puppies near Gate F81. The 2-year-old golden retriever, Eleanor Rigby, owner Diane Van Atter, and...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 3 hours ago