Colorado loses wildfire recovery money in revamped Sandy aid bill

watersheds

DENVER — When House Speaker John Boehner refused to allow a vote on a package of disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy at the end of last year, the delay outraged a number of politicians from the northeast, most notably the bombastic New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Now, after Congress voted Monday to approve an emergency aid package of nearly $51 billion, politicians from Colorado are up in arms.

That’s because Boehner’s inaction on last year’s bill forced lawmakers to re-write the Sandy aid package.

The new package from the House did not include $125 million in wildfire recovery funding for Colorado as — you guessed it — the original legislation from the Senate did.

Sen. Michael Bennet, who voted to approve the revamped package on Monday, issued a statement expressing his disgust over the loss of funding for an Emergency Watershed Protection Program to help restore eroded watersheds that have been devastated by wildfires and put communities at risk of floods, road washouts and contaminated drinking water.

“It’s really unfortunate, given the history we have in this country to come together to aid a community in need following a disaster, that the House would not follow our lead in the Senate to include critical resources to stabilize our watersheds and protect our drinking water,” Bennet said.

“Simply put, the House left Colorado and many other states struck by major disasters behind. Despite this, I am not going to oppose this bill because the victims of Hurricane Sandy desperately need this aid.”

Last fall, Bennet and Sen. Mark Udall joined with three Colorado congressmen, Reps. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, Cory Gardner, R-Yuma and Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, in advocating for the EWP funding.

On Tuesday morning, Gardner tweeted: “Disappointed Senate and House disaster aid ignores Colorado. Have commitment from Chairman Rogers to fix and will keep working.”