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January 14, 2013

House to Vote on Sandy Pork Tomorrow

The second stage of the House's likely passage of bloated, "off-budget emergency spending" unrelated to the Sandy weather event will take place tomorrow. The bill has been cut into two parts so as to provide reluctant conservatives cover for passage of the pork-fest.

The first part is House Appropriations Chairman Rogers Sandy Supplemental bill, HR 152 as amended. This is the one that conservatives get to vote for, but it's far from perfect. HR 152 (including Rogers' amendment) clocks in at $17 billion. It includes:

  • $3 million for oil spill research;
  • $25 million for the failed Head Start daycare program; and
  • $3.9 billion for a new HUD disaster program.

None of these should be off-budget expenses. They are in no way "emergency" or even one-time expenses. The new HUD program is particularly egregious, since, as you know, few federal programs are ever shuttered once created. Look for the program to get continued funding in March's budget proposals.

And that's just the "clean," conservative-friendly bill. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) will move to amend the bill to add enough pork to buy the votes needed for passage. The amendment adds another $33.67 billion to the price tag, including for such inappropriate spending as:

  • $16 billion for HUD to spend on any disaster "emergency" that was declared in 2011 and 2012, and any that will be declared in 2013 (meaning in 47 states plus Puerto Rico at the moment).
  • $2.02 billion for Federal Highway Administration to spend on roads first in Connecticut, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia whether they need Sandy-related repairs or not and then elsewhere in the country as FHA chooses;
  • $561 million for the Corps of Engineers to spend outside of areas affected by Sandy, including $10 million for a national Water Resources Priorities Study;
  • $100 million for Head Start;
  • $86 million for AMTRAK on non-Sandy capital improvements;
  • $40 million for military base repair and maintence, which includes spending for Guantanamo Bay;
  • $25 million for NOAA to improve weather forecasting;
  • $10 million for FBI salaries and expenses; and
  • $2 million for Smithsonian roof repairs.

Once again, we see things that should be part of the regular budget (or, to be sure, cut from the regular budget) being slipped into off-budget "emergency" spending, like AMTRAK capital improvements, improved NOAA weather forecasting, Head Start funding, and FBI salaries.

Rep. Frelinghuysen's vote-buying scheme radically exceeds even the unconscionable proposals of President Obama and the Senate. The FHA road spending is $1.7 billion more than the President asked for and $1.1 billion more than the Senate passed. And the total Corps of Engineers spending is $166 million more than the President asked for.

These non-Sandy relief bills should be voted down. I could support a bill to aid the region hurt by superstorm Sandy. This pork-laden monstrosity is not that bill.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 10:14 AM

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