When combined with the underlying $17 billion bill and the previously passed un-offset $9.7 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), it would bring the total Sandy relief package to nearly $60.4 billion, the amount passed by the Senate last year. As The Heritage Foundation has explained, the request is far too large and includes items best left for its upcoming appropriations process.
In the era of trillion dollar annual deficits, we cannot afford un-offset funding for superfluous programs that are not related to Hurricane Sandy relief. From repairs to the Smithsonian Institution to upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) airplanes to more funding for the federal government’s epic educational failure known as Head Start, there are a myriad of other extraneous items.
The amendment would include an additional $12.15 billion in wasteful community development funds, bringing the bill’s total to $16 billion. Not only is the program itself problematic, but it is especially concerning because the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated it would need a comparatively much smaller $5.2 billion for its “unmet needs.”
To be clear, the Frelinghuysen Amendment is less about addressing near-term needs of the impacted areas and more about securing a long-term funding stream that is outside the budget caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Unabashedly using a natural disaster to spend more taxpayer money proves just how irresponsible Washington remains.
Heritage Action opposes the Frelinghuysen Amendment and will include it as a vote on our scorecard.