The House on Tuesday shot down a Republican effort to cover some $20 billion of the $51 billion cost of the Hurricane Sandy relief bill with existing federal funds.
The House voted against an amendment offered by Republican Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina that would have cut less than 2 percent in discretionary spending to cover some $20.4 billion of the Sandy aid, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“I know how important the supplemental relief is to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, but I believe we can provide that relief while finding ways to pay for it, rather than adding to the nation's ballooning deficit,” Mulvaney said. “Indeed, if we cannot come together under these tragic circumstances to find a way to pay for this relief, do we seriously believe we will have the political will to ever balance the budget?”
Conservative watchdog groups including the Club for Growth, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) and Heritage Action for America have all announced that they will report the votes of members of Congress on Hurricane Sandy relief in their annual scorecards.
“The underlying bill continues to remain unpaid for, and this amendment would fix that,” said Andy Roth, the Club for Growth’s vice president for government affairs concerning the Mulvaney amendment. “It’s the very least Congress can do to start acting in a fiscally responsible manner.”
CCAGW and Heritage Action for America, the issue advocacy arm of the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, are angry that the Sandy package includes spending unrelated to relief efforts such as repairs to the Smithsonian Institution, upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes and the “federal government’s epic educational failure known as Head Start.”
“It’s difficult to see how any of this will help Sandy’s victims,” Heritage Action wrote.
For his part, Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky defended his bill prior to the House voting to pass it. "My committee thoroughly examined the emergency request, listened to the needs of the people and the region, and assessed the most pressing needs to determine the funding levels made in this bill,” Rogers said.
“We crafted this legislation responsibly, giving the Administration’s request and the Senate passed bill a hard scrub to eliminate unnecessary spending. We’ve removed objectionable provisions added by the Senate, and have adjusted funding levels to make the best use of taxpayer dollars.”
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