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Time to step up on Sandy

As Congress works to put our nation’s fiscal house in order, its members should not leave until they have fulfilled another of their crucial obligations: to provide aid to the Northeast, a region facing unprecedented damage and devastation.

Time and again, members of our states’ delegations have joined with our neighbors to send hundreds of billions of dollars in aid to battered regions across our great nation. They did so in the spirit of compassion, recognizing that in times of crisis no region, state or single American should have to stand alone or be left to fend for itself.

Hurricane Sandy dealt our region a once-unthinkable blow. Sandy blew through our nation’s most densely populated region: The affected states are home to more than 50 million people, or one out of every six Americans. More than 17.5 million Americans were directly affected.

While Sandy’s power and destruction were an unprecedented event for our region, natural disasters have brought tragedy to every corner of our nation.

Storms and disasters lay waste to communities and deliver damage far beyond the resources and capacity of any single state to recover on its own. This is why Congress has always come to the assistance of Americans facing a recovery effort of this scale.

Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina blew through the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress approved more than $62 billion in federal aid. This marks the seventh week since Sandy made landfall. And Congress has yet to act.

We realize that our nation faces significant fiscal challenges, and we respect congressional leaders’ efforts to work with President Obama to achieve a resolution. As governors, we have had to make hard budget choices in the wake of the economic crisis and recession.

Yet our needs are real and immediate, and Congress must act – as it has so many times before – to assist our recovery and help us build back better and stronger than ever.

The request for $60 billion was diligently assembled based on conservative estimates of our states’ needs and is in line with supplemental appropriations approved after previous disasters for other areas.

This is not the time for partisanship or regional isolationism. The three of us have reached across the aisle and across our borders to work together during this crisis. Congress must do the same and not allow this much-needed aid to fall in to the ideological divide.

We are actively engaged with the White House and Congress and stand ready to do whatever it takes for the full aid request to pass by year’s end. Our delegations have worked tirelessly to demonstrate the region’s destruction and needs to their fellow members; we appreciate for their efforts.

Americans come together in times of crisis. Our states have stood with your communities when they suffered and faced devastation. It’s time for Congress to stand with us.

Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is governor of New York. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, is governor of Connecticut. Chris Christie, a Republican, is governor of New Jersey. They wrote this for the Washington Post.

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