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Editor/Founder: Bill Smith, Ph.D. [aka: OzarkGuru & 2010 AFP National Blogger of the Year]
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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Senate Voting On Sandy Relief Bill Stuffed With "Pork"

Today in Washington, D.C. - Dec 28, 2012
The Senate reconvened at 9 AM today and resumed consideration of H.R. 5949, the FISA reauthorization bill.  Senators voted down a final amendment to the FISA bill from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and then voted 73-23 to pass H.R. 5949. The bill now goes to the president for his signature.

The Senate then resumed consideration of H.R. 1, the vehicle for a supplemental appropriations bill for relief from Hurricane Sandy, and began voting on a series of amendments to the bill. All amendments will require 60 votes for adoption.

Among those amendments are several being offered by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Tom  Coburn (R-OK) to strike various provisions in the bill not related to emergency hurricane relief, such as money for fisheries in Alaska.  Once all pending amendments are worked through, the Senate will vote on the Reid substitute amendment to H.R. 1, as amended, and then on final passage of H.R. 1.

At 3 PM, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will meet with President Obama at the White House for discussions on the fiscal cliff.

Yesterday, the Senate rejected three amendments to the FISA bill: a substitute amendment from Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) that would have required an inspector general review of surveillance authorities, an amendment from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that would have required government disclosure of decisions from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and an excellent amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have expanded government warrant requirements when seeking information from third parties.

Today, the Senate is voting on amendments to the bill that is supposed to offer aid for families and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, Democrats have stuffed it full of extra spending, including things like $150 million for fisheries in Alaska and $13 billion for storms that haven’t even happened yet.

The New York Post blasted the bill last week, writing, “President Obama’s $60.4 billion request for Hurricane Sandy relief has morphed into a huge Christmas stocking of goodies for federal agencies and even the state of Alaska, The Post has learned. The pork-barrel feast includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments. It also includes a whopping $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC. An eye-popping $13 billion would go to ‘mitigation’ projects to prepare for future storms. . . . Budget watchdogs have dubbed the 94-page emergency-spending bill ‘Sandy Scam.’”

And The Wall Street Journal ripped the bill in an editorial: “Only Congress could do something like this. All eyes are on the fiscal-cliff negotiations to trim the $1 trillion-plus budget deficit. Running alongside but largely out of public view is a $60.4 billion emergency spending bill to provide relief to the victims of superstorm Sandy. Trouble is, the ‘Sandy’ bill is laden with billions of dollars of spending stowaways wholly unrelated to the hurricane. . . . “This is supposed to be an ‘emergency’ funding bill. But only about $9 billion of the $60 billion would be spent in the next nine months. The Congressional Budget Office reports that $38 billion would be spent in fiscal 2015 or beyond. Some emergency. And for all the recent talk of offsetting such commitments with reductions elsewhere, there are no spending cuts here.”

A key vote to watch this morning will be an amendment being offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to strip larded-on spending like the money for Alaska fisheries. Will Democrats vote to focus on the needs for recovery from this hurricane or will they vote once again for endless spending and endless deficits?

Harry Reid - Senate Thug
Rick Manning, Americans for Limited Government, made some appropriate remarks regarding Sen. Harry Reid today:Nothing is more infuriating than hearing a politician who has failed to act in six months on a single piece of legislation to end a crisis complaining about someone who has strenuously worked to produce a solution to the problem.

Harry Reid, also known as the Duke of Do-Nothing, is just such a whiny specimen.

The Senate majority leader’s pronouncement that there is not time for Congress to act to avoid the “fiscal cliff” is both arrogant and absurd.

His finger-pointing at the Republicans is even more infuriating.

Memo to Harry: the House of Representatives passed legislation to prevent going over the cliff — it simply extends the Bush tax cuts. The House also passed legislation replacing the sequestration cuts that were part of Harry’s only accomplishment of the past two years, with alternative cuts.

Reid has failed to act on either bill.

In fairness, while Reid hasn’t bothered to produce a budget for more than three years out of fear of creating a political issue that might depose him from his Lordship over DumDumville, his Senate did pass legislation this summer that dramatically raised taxes on everyone making more than $250,000 a year.

Of course now, Reid is refusing to compromise off that position, which coincidentally isn’t far removed from Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” solution — a plan Reid summarily dismissed.

By refusing to reach a compromise with House Republicans, Reid is playing a dangerous game aiming for complete victory through the political neutering of his foes. His plan depends upon a complicit media to blame the Republicans, while not mentioning the ramifications of his rejection of the white-flag-waving Boehner’s Plan B offer.

When we go over the fiscal cliff, it will not be because House Republicans failed to pass legislation that prevented it. It will be because Harry Reid chose to pursue a course that guaranteed that outcome.

The truth is that Democrats want higher taxes, not just on the wealthy, but on the rest of us who are not yet part of the dependency state they have built. The fiscal cliff just gives them the ideal opportunity to impose them, while blaming the Republicans.

The truth is that the Democrats want defense cuts imposed, and they love to see the House Republicans getting the blame.

The truth is that every American who pays taxes is likely to see their paychecks shrink next year because Reid would rather play politics in the expectation that he can affix the blame to his political foes.

That’s the sad situation in Washington, D.C., where politics trumps everything else. And if you think this “fight” has been tough, wait until you see what happens with the upcoming debt ceiling and Continuing Resolution wars.

Those who are faint of heart need to turn away, because you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Tags: fiscal cliff, Sandy Bill, pork, Harry Reid, Senate Thug, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 12:16 PM - Post Link


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