Pork Anyone? Hurricane Sandy Bill Stuffed With Extra Spending
Both the Senate and House were not in session today. On Monday, the House is scheduled to reconvene at noon and the Senate at 2 PM. Click here to review actions taken yesterday.
As first reported by ABC News yesterday, the spending bill being proposed by Senate Democrats and the Obama administration that’s supposed to fund relief efforts from Hurricane Sandy is actually stuffed with questionable spending projects.
According to ABC’s Jonathan Karl, the bill “features some surprising items:
- $23 million for tree plantings to ‘help reduce flood effects, protect water sources, decrease soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat’ in forested areas
- $2 million to repair roof damage at Smithsonian buildings in Washington that pre-dates the storm . . .
- FBI is seeking $4 million to replace ‘vehicles, laboratory and office equipment and furniture . . .
- Customs and Border Protection wants $2.4 million to replace ‘destroyed or damaged vehicles, including mobile X-Ray machines . . .
- Small Business Administration is seeking a $50 million ... for its post-storm response efforts including ‘Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Development Centers . . .
- a whopping $13 billion request for ‘mitigation projects’ to prepare for future storms.
Digging further, The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper finds that “[i]n the bill to cover expenses related to the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, the Obama administration is requesting $13 billion to cover storms to be named later. ‘Mitigation Projects: In addition to the funds necessary for recovery and repair of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Administration estimates an additional $12,970 million [thousands of million] is necessary for mitigation projects to reduce the risk of damage from future disasters,’ writes Office of Management and Budget director Jeffrey Zients in a letter to House speaker John Boehner. . . . A senior congressional aide familiar with the request writes, ‘This isn’t the baseball winter meetings. The people of New York and New Jersey need aid to recover from Hurricane Sandy, not some storm to be named later.’ The Republican aide continues, ‘The more goodies these Washington bureaucrats pile onto the core relief package, the harder it’s going to be to get it quickly to the people who need it most.’”
At NRO, Katrina Trinko points out, “Republican senators like Arizona’s Jon Kyl and Alabama’s Jeff Sessions have objected to the large Hurricane Sandy relief package. President Obama has requested $60.4 billion in new spending, and they’re not convinced it needs to be quite so expensive. Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn also has concerns, telling CNN today that ‘This is a stimulus bill, not an emergency bill,’ and saying that nearly two thirds of the funding allocated by the bill wouldn’t actually get spent prior to 2015.”
They’re not the only ones troubled by all the extra spending. According to Roll Call, “Many Republicans already are indicating that the Sandy package may need to be scaled back, particularly in terms of long-term mitigation projects. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who has been supportive of emergency Sandy aid, questions the need to quickly provide about $13 billion for projects to reduce future flood risks . . . . John Cornyn of Texas, who will be the Senate GOP minority whip in the 113th session of Congress, questioned the need to immediately appropriate funds that won’t be spent for many years. According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, about $15 billion of the money to be provided by the Senate bill would be spent between the year beginning Oct. 1, 2016, and the year ending Sept. 30, 2022. ‘By definition, it’s not an emergency if it’s needed 10 years from now,’ Cornyn said.”
As Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told Roll Call, “Being from Florida, I anticipate that one day, unfortunately, we may have another storm of that sort of magnitude. So we definitely want to get them help, but at the same time, I want to see what’s in it. . . . It’s got to be reasonable and storm-related. I want to make sure that there are not things in there that don’t belong.”
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