Proposed Sandy Aid Package Would Help NASA, Smithsonian

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The Obama administration is seeking $60.4 billion in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, which would include repairs at the National Air and Space Museum and NASA's launch facilities on the East Coast.

The White House's requests were outlined in a letter sent late last week to congressional leaders from Jeff Zeints, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The bulk of the proposed aid money would go toward efforts to repair homes and public infrastructure ravaged by the record-breaking superstorm and infuse cash into efforts to prepare for future storms.

But the White House also asked for $4 million to allow NASA to fix eroded dunes and berms that protect launch sites at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Under the plan, another $2 million would go to the Smithsonian to help the institution fix roof damage at its network of museums in the Washington, D.C., area, including the National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum and National Zoo.

But all that rides on approval from Congress. The Senate is to begin debating its own version of the package Monday afternoon. That proposal matches the White House's requested $60.4 billion, although it would make available $15 million for repairs at NASA facilities through 2018, according to a senate summary of the bill.

Some House Republicans have said they would seek a smaller initial package to deal with urgent relief and rebuilding efforts, while awaiting more detailed evidence on damages before making decisions about additional spending, according to the Associated Press.