“NO” ON SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
On Tuesday, the House will vote on an amended Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R.152), which is an “emergency spending” bill intended for disaster assistance for Hurricane Sandy relief. The legislative package is expected to total more than $50 billion. $17 billion is contained in a substitute amendment offered by Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY). The House will also consider a $33 billion amendment offered by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).
While Hurricane Sandy was a major disaster, the majority of the funds originally requested by the Obama Administration and in the subsequent Senate passed Sandy bill were to be spent beyond FY 2014. Furthermore, far too much of the funding goes toward superfluous programs that are not related to Hurricane Sandy relief, from repairs to the Smithsonian Institution to upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes to more funding for the federal government’s epic educational failure known as Head Start, among myriad other extraneous items. The inclusion of $16 billion in wasteful community development funds is also concerning, especially because the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated it would need a comparatively much smaller $5.2 billion for its “unmet needs.” These non-emergency measures prove how irresponsible Washington has grown, unabashedly using a natural disaster to spend more taxpayer money.
This legislation not only contains glaringly excessive spending, but it also feeds into Congress’s problem of failing to budget responsibly. As Heritage’s Patrick Louis Knudsen explains, this vote is indeed an opportunity for lawmakers in Congress to demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Faced with another trillion-dollar deficit, adding tens of billions of dollars to our national debt is reckless.
Rather than continuing to use Sandy victims’ plight as leverage to get their desired pork into the Sandy measure, lawmakers should avoid contributing further to our deficits and refrain from passing legislation that would do just that.
Heritage Action opposes the Sandy Supplemental and barring substantial alteration will include it as a vote on our scorecard.