Latest Development on Sandy Supplemental
Although the Senate is poised to approve the Sandy supplemental today, CQ reports (sub. req’d) that the full Congress may wait until 2013 before sending a Sandy supplemental to President Obama. CQ argues this will “strengthen the hand of conservatives who are seeking to reduce spending in the bill.”
While some Democrats in the Senate are expressing a sense of urgency to pass the Sandy supplemental now, if it is delayed until the next Congress, a spending measure will have to originate in the House. The House Appropriations Committee has been examining the President’s request closely and following up with the agencies involved in the recovery. So it is not as though the House is sitting idle – a common though false claim made by Senate Democrats – or that they will be unable to act promptly on this in the next Congress.
President Obama wanted to spend $60.4 billion in this one “aid” package, despite the fact that much — 64 percent to be precise — of the spending would not happen for 22 months. The President’s Sandy request also perpetuates negative Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trends. Specifically, he’s asked for increased funds to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which has asked form another $9.7 billion of borrowing money, or a 47 percent increase. This is problematic, since the NFIP is poorly managed and has already needed several bailouts. Companies in the private sector should take over many of NFIP’s functions.
Liberals may try to paint the picture that conservatives are uncaring, but that is simply untrue. We’re just not naïve enough to believe that the $38.7 billion of spending that won’t happen for 22 months is actually “emergency” spending. (If by “emergency,” the spendaholics in government mean that they need to get their spendaholic fix, and fast, then yes, maybe it is an emergency of sorts. Just not the kind we want taxpayers to have to fund.)
While conservatives agree that the federal government has a role in helping victims of a disaster of this magnitude, we disagree that it is an appropriate time to pack in all sorts of unnecessary, bogus spending that is not there to help Sandy victims. Instead, as Heritage expert Matt Mayer has recommended, such spending should be considered in the upcoming budget with more discretion.
Moreover, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) has suggested a two step approach, to address the more immediate needs of Sandy victims now and consider the other funding requests later. There are better avenues to helping rebuild the Northeast (and fisheries in Alaska) than passing a funding request that looks anything like the President’s.