Schumer: Democrats agree on a deal for Sandy victims

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Wednesday that Democratic senators had an informal agreement in principle to negotiate a bipartisan program to help Hurricane Sandy victims to make their payments.

Schumer said that talks between Democrats from New York and New Jersey and two moderate Democrats from states hit hard by Sandy, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, had been “casual” over the last several days. He indicated that they would continue, and that he hoped to have a deal before Congress leaves for the holidays.

“We have an informal understanding. We’re still working it out and having very cordial conversations to make sure people who have been hurt by Sandy get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” Schumer said.

Schumer said the House version of the homebuyer tax credit included in the $700 billion bailout legislation was the “best solution” for homeowners, and he did not oppose the administration’s proposal to speed up the Build Back Better program, which depends on private contractors and has struggled to pay out its money.

Schumer’s comments came as the Democratic Party’s election operation prepares to move out of its Brooklyn headquarters and into a larger space in the Capitol, which will improve its ability to coordinate its political efforts across a dozen Senate offices.

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