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Biden to spotlight Sandy aid during today's visit

Tuesday, January 7, 2014
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Vice President Joe Biden makes a point while speaking at Shenendehowa High School on July 9, 2009.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Vice President Joe Biden makes a point while speaking at Shenendehowa High School on July 9, 2009.

— Vice President Joe Biden will join Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the state Capital today to tout the positive economic impact of federal relief aid for various public works projects in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Cuomo announced Biden would join the governor to discuss infrastructure and other investments in the wake of the massive hurricane, which devastated a large swath of Long Island and parts of New York City in October 2012. Though few details were released about the meeting, sources said the emphasis of the meeting will be to highlight how federal dollars were able to both aid the recovery and bolster the state’s economy.

The vice president and governor are also expected to announce details on 3,000 affordable housing units to be constructed throughout the state in areas affected by natural disasters. The initiative is expected to gain mention in Cuomo’s State of the State address on Wednesday.

It’s unclear whether Biden and Cuomo will specifically mention the natural disasters affecting the upstate region, including the tropical storms of 2011 and the flash flooding that devastated a number of Mohawk Valley municipalities this past July. Projects associated with those disasters continue to receive federal funding.

Biden will join Cuomo and others at the Red Room in the Capitol Building at 11:30 a.m. The event is open to media but not the general public.

Biden’s itinerary for his visit wasn’t made public and no further details were released by the White House on Monday. State and federal lawmakers from the Capital Region also remained largely in the dark about the purpose of his visit.

The few details of Biden’s visit that were know to area legislators, however, were drawing praise from fellow Democrats. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand lauded Biden’s visit, which is his second to the region since 2009.

“Vice President Biden knows New Yorkers are as tough as they come, and are doing all we can to recover and rebuild from Superstorm Sandy,” she said in an email. “With this strong federal investment, I am hopeful our families, communities and businesses can stand strong again.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, said New York’s congressional delegation has fought hard for federal disaster aid. He said Biden’s visit to the area suggests the federal dollars will continue to flow into areas affected by storms such as Sandy and others that have besieged parts of the state over the past few years.

“It was a big fight to get the aid as strong as it was and to have it as quickly as it came,” said Tonko, who was in Schenectady to swear in several members of the county Legislature Monday evening.

Biden’s appearance comes as both he and Cuomo remain among a list of presidential hopefuls in 2016. Recent polls suggest former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the front-runner among candidates for the Democratic nomination, with Biden and Cuomo a distant second and third, respectively, among registered voters.

Last month, a survey by Public Policy Polling found 66 percent of likely voters would back Clinton as the Democratic candidate, while 10 percent supported Biden and only 2 percent picked Cuomo. With Clinton’s name removed from the mix, Biden’s support grew to 35 percent and Cuomo’s backers increased to 7 percent, according to the poll.

Biden’s last visit to the Capital Region served as a progress report for the federal stimulus aid being pumped into New York. The vice president highlighted the $16 billion in Recovery Act funds obligated to New York and the impact the aid was having on job creation during an appearance at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park in 2009.

Biden called the funding the largest government investment in infrastructure since the Eisenhower Administration. He also cautioned that the investment would take time to reverse the impact of the recession — something he metaphorically compared to a storm.

“This is going to take a while,” Biden said at the time. “We’re cleaning up the wreckage of a storm.”

 
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