Feb. 9, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

White House's Request for Storm Aid Could Complicate Budget Negotiations

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Among the many losses seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is this Seaside Heights, N.J., boardwalk, which has been mostly removed because of the extensive damage.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has estimated damages to his state at about $29.4 billion but has not said how much the state wants from the federal government. Cuomo earlier this month estimated the Empire State’s costs at about $30 billion over 10 years.

It may be weeks or months before the federal government knows how much it will need to spend on Sandy relief. To some degree, though, key decisions have already been made.

Disaster relief is part of the budget where presidents have direct access to the federal purse. The White House decides what constitutes a major disaster, and once a major disaster is declared, the federal government is on the hook for aiding communities, often picking up 75 percent of the tab.

President Barack Obama has made seven major disaster declarations in connection with Sandy, covering New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and Rhode Island.

Alan K. Ota contributed to this report.

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