“NO” on Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Assistance
This week, the Senate will vote on the Fiscal Year Disaster Assistance Supplemental (summary), which is an “emergency spending” bill intended for disaster assistance for Hurricane Sandy relief. While Hurricane Sandy was a major disaster, the majority of the funds being requested are being spent beyond FY 2014, and much of the funding goes toward superfluous programs that have no direct relation to Hurricane Sandy.
President Obama’s administration has proposed $60.4 billion of spending, 64 percent of which will not be spent for 22 months. In fact, some of the spending will not be complete until 2022 and beyond. This long timeline is an indication that a massive amount of spending has nothing to do with the “emergency” of helping Hurricane Sandy victims.
The request contains spending for future disaster programs as well as funds to repair and replace federal assets and for various other projects. For example, of the $5.35 billion requested for the Corps of Engineers, just $1.838 billion – or 34% – is for “disaster recovery.” The remaining $3.512 billion is for mitigation efforts, which the Obama administration request says would be used to address “impacts associated with a changing climate.”
Heritage’s Matt Mayer contends that not only is there too much spending in this current disaster aid request, but there are a number of items being packed into the Hurricane Sandy appropriations proposal that should rightfully be considered with more care in the upcoming budget.
Roughly $3 billion of the $60.4 billion request is for federal departments and agencies to repair or replace federal assets. Like disaster-mitigation funding requests, all requests for funding for federal departments and agencies that does not flow to states, localities, businesses, or citizens for response and recovery activities should not be included in this supplemental request; rather, those items should be placed in the upcoming budget after a more thorough analysis and prioritization of those funding requests.
The proposal “vividly illustrates the problems with the federal government’s and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) current approach to natural disasters.” Absent unnecessary items, the request would be roughly $12.8 billion, which could be easily offset. Simply put, President Obama’s disaster aid request is “act of willful fiscal negligence.”
Heritage Action opposes the Sandy Supplemental and will include it as a key vote on our scorecard.