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Four governors urge Washington against politics on disaster aid

Sep 23, 2011, 3:25 p.m.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during tenth anniversary ceremonies at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site in New York, September 11, 2011. REUTERS/Noah K. Murray/Pool

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The governors of four East Coast states -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- issued a joint statement on Friday imploring the federal government to "put aside politics on disaster issues."

They pleaded to clear away any partisan barriers that might interfere with emergency aid promised in the wake of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

"Federal assistance for the victims of storms and floods should be beyond politics," said the statement from governors Chris Christie, Republican from New Jersey; Tom Corbett, Republican from Pennsylvania; Andrew Cuomo, Democrat from New York; and Bev Perdue, Democrat from North Carolina.

A bill that would give the Federal Emergency Management Agency more disaster relief money and ensure the government can continue operating while Congress debates a full 2012 budget has stalled this week due to differences between the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate.

Hurricane Irene bashed many East Coast States in August and Tropical Storm Lee dumped heavy rain in that region in early September, causing severe flooding.

"Billions of dollars in loss and destruction pose a serious threat not only to local and regional economies, but to the nation's economic recovery," the governors said.

Mary Goepfert, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, said federal money has been flowing to state residents who need help with clean-up and temporary housing because of the flooding.

She said the total is now about $84 million, but there are unknown amounts of claims still to come. Moreover, the state has estimated it would need at least $190 million for infrastructure repairs.

(Reporting by Dave Warner; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)

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