- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In two years, Vice President Joseph R. Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo may be enemies as they vie for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination, but on Tuesday the two men praised each other and vowed to work together to rebuild the Empire State following a series of devastating storms.

Mr. Biden visited Albany on Tuesday as Mr. Cuomo, a first-term Democrat, announced a comprehensive plan to “reimagine New York” after the damage done by Hurricanes Lee and Irene in 2011, and, most notably, 2012’s Superstorm Sandy.

The ambitious plan will be funded in part by federal aid money and will include the modernization of weather-detection technology, a massive overall of New York’s transportation systems, the establishment of the first “citizen first-responder corps,” and other steps.

‘We are now facing a new reality … Extreme weather is the new reality,” Mr. Cuomo said in explaining why the plan is needed.

He also praised the Obama administration and Mr. Biden specifically for their help during and after each of the disasters, especially Sandy, which wreaked havoc all along the East Coast and put parts of New York City under water. Thus far, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated more than $7 billion to New York, with $3.2 billion going to New York City and another $3.8 billion for the rest of the state.

Mr. Biden also lauded Mr. Cuomo for not panicking even as Sandy was destroying parts of his state.

“You were a calm voice,” Mr. Biden said.

The mutual admiration between the two veteran Democratic politicians, however, may be short-lived.

Both men are rumored to be eyeing the White House in 2016. Both likely would be underdogs to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who leads early polling among Democratic primary voters.

Should he decide to run, Mr. Biden closed his remarks Tuesday with what may have been a preview of his next stump speech, blasting Republicans for standing in the way of infrastructure spending and for dismissing broad, ambitious proposals such as the one laid out by Mr. Cuomo while allowing international competitors to race ahead of America.

‘We have to once again act like America,” Mr. Biden said. “If I blindfolded you and took you into an airport in China or Hong Kong and you looked around and I asked where you are, assuming it was totally empty, you would say ‘this must be America.’ Or if I took you to Singapore, 100 other places around the world. No, it’s not. The most modern airports in the world are in other parts of the world … Why do some of our friends not understand why we became such a great nation?”

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