By David Madden

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) —     US senators from New Jersey and New York today questioned the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development about the slow pace of recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

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At a hearing held by a subcommittee of the Senate Banking Committee in Washington, DC, HUD secretary Shaun Donovan (below) insisted his agency has changed current rules to speed things up.

(HUD secretary Shaun Donovan.  Image from US Senate TV)

(HUD secretary Shaun Donovan. Image from US Senate TV)

“This pace of spending is 48 percent faster than after Hurricane Katrina,” Donovan told senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), “and more than 2½ times faster than after Hurricane Ike.”

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Menendez was complimentary of HUD’s role but suggested there has been a lot of bureaucratic footdragging at the state level.

“I thought it was a good idea to give states the flexibility and discretion that seemed reasonable, assuming we would all rise to the occasion,” he said, “and now, frankly, I question the wisdom of that assumption.”

No state officials accepted an invitation to testify but, during the hearing, the Christie administration announced plans to streamline release of funds to distressed homeowners still waiting for help.

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