WASHINGTON — Yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg sounded quite skeptical the city would get the billions of dollars in federal aid he is requesting after Hurricane Sandy when he sarcastically joked that he was as “optimistic” about the prospect of getting the funds as he had been about getting the West Side stadium he unsuccessfully pushed for. At the press conference after his series of meetings with lawmakers and officials in Washington today he sounded far more confident, so Politicker asked whether he was now more genuinely optimistic his request for aid would be fulfilled
“I’m always genuinely optimistic, although I will say we’re unlikely to get the stadium on the West Side,” Mr. Bloomberg said with a laugh. “I walked away this morning as optimistic as you could be. Nothing is ever done until it’s done. There is always a possibility of other things occurring during the process…but from both Republicans and Democrats in both houses, we got very optimistic buzz, if you will.”
In spite of Mr. Bloomberg’s newfound optimism, Senator Chuck Schumer, who accompanied the mayor at the press conference along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, outlined the various reasons he believes it will be a “hard fight” to get the federal aid New York’s elected officials are pushing for.
“There’s no doubt this is going to be a hard fight. We have a Congress that is decidedly less friendly to disaster aid than any in 100 years, we’re in the middle of very strenuous negotiations over the fiscal cliff and we know that money is short in Washington just as it is in New York,” Mr. Schumer said. “But having someone like Mayor Bloomberg down here advocating for New York is like having an ace in the hole. He has the stature and the respect on both sides of the aisle we need to bring a winning hand home.”
Mr. Bloomberg said New York State is requesting $42 billion in federal aid including money for state agencies, Long Island and the five boroughs. He said New Jersey is asking for $38 billion of aid.
Mr. Schumer said the push for the funds would not be a quick process.
“So far, we believe our colleagues have been very receptive, but there’s a long road to go and there are going to be many pitfalls in the way, particularly given the climate in Washington and the shortage of money,” he explained. “This fight will not last weeks, but months. Mayor Bloomberg, we’ll probably need you back a few times.”