7:23 pm Dec. 3, 2012
Andrew Cuomo went to Washington hoping to convince the White House and congressional leaders to approve a supplemental request for billions of dollars in federal assistance, without any of the complicated math that's become required for congressional spending bills.
Cuomo, who had avoided D.C. since being elected governor in 2010 to avoid early speculation about his presidential ambitions, started his tour at the White House.
Jack Lew, the White House chief of staff and a native New Yorker, hosted the governor in his office, along with Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan, another New Yorker, and the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jeffrey Zients, and the administration's legislative director, Rob Nabors.
The administration is expected to issue its own numbers for the proposed supplemental later this week.
The White House trip was a late addition to the governor's schedule, which also included meetings with the chair and vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Daniel Inouye and Thad Cochran. Cuomo was joined by senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who also attended a meeting with the governor and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
"We spoke about the scale of the damage which is just devastating," Cuomo said in a brief press conference after the meetings. "People are still reeling from this trauma. New York needs help. New York has been there for other parts of the country, we're going to need help and we're asking for the same today. And so far I'm optimistic."
Gillibrand said she was "extremely grateful that the governor came down to talk to the chairman and the ranking member of the committee, to put this disaster more in context, to understand how much it will cost to actually rebuild New York."
Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, who faced a similar battle for funding after Hurricane Katrina, pledged to stand with the state.
"New York and the east coast was there for the Gulf Coast, and we are going to step up now, I'm going to step up for New York, New Jersey and the east coast," she said. "We know what a successful recovery needs and we're going to try to provide all the--not just revenues--but tools necessary for a smart recovery."
Schumer said he hoped the administration's supplemental would come soon. "The closer it gets to December 31 the more worried we get," he said, referring to the deadline for the so-called fiscal cliff.
Cuomo and the state's congressional delegation have tried to keep discussion of the supplemental separate from those negotiations, which are effectively "nowhere" according to both sides.
After his Senate meetings, Cuomo went to the House side for a meeting with John Boehner, who took time from a big day for his caucus.
"Today is the day the steering committee meets and all the committee assignments are made and everything," said Peter King, who has served as the liaison between the two, and helped arrange the meeting. "That's important for any leader in the House, especially the Speaker."
King, who was joined by fellow Republican Reps. Michael Grimm and Bob Turner, called it "an extremely positive meeting," though he reiterated his desire to keep the supplemental out of the spotlight until the White House issues its numbers.
After another meeting with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cuomo told reporters that Boehner, whose anti-spending caucus would seem to be the key to any supplemental deal, was "optimistic" and that the speaker wants to be "supportive." (He also announced that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would make a trip to the Capitol on Thursday.)
The congressional delegation joined him for the event, though some Democratic lawmakers were reportedly "peeved" that they had only heard about the governor's visit on Friday, and that they had been asked to stand, but not actually meet, with him.