Senate Finally Approves $50.5 Billion in Superstorm Sandy Aid
The Chicago Tribune reports that the U.S. Senate finally has approved a $50.5 billion aid package for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. The package, approved 62-36 in the Democratic-controlled Senate, now goes to President Obama to be signed into law. Added to flood insurance legislation passed by Congress earlier this month, it brings Sandy aid appropriations to $60.2 billion. The Senate defeated a Republican amendment that sought to offset the Sandy aid with cuts to discretionary spending spread over the next nine years.
The vote apparently was delayed because lawmakers were trying to compromise on new filibuster rules. (Apparently, they can’t do two things at once). Barbara Mikulski, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman, said: “Sandy’s victims have been waiting for three months for their federal government to step up and help them rebuild their lives and rebuild their livelihoods…They have been waiting and waiting.” The package will provide $10 billion to repair public transport infrastructure, $5.3 billion to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund and $16 billion in Community Development Block Grant funding – money to be used by municipalities largely to rebuild homes and businesses.
Some Republicans, bitter because of the tax increases approved as a result of the late-December fiscal cliff deal, have stalled the appropriations to demand equal cuts in discretionary spending. Conservative groups, including the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation, had urged senators to vote against the package without any offsets, saying it was filled with “pork” (they would know a thing or two about that wouldn’t they).
“The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the $50.5 billion package on January 15 – largely with Democratic votes – after shaving off about $160 million and preventing any funds from being diverted to disasters in other states. Since then, Congress has approved $9.7 billion to shore up the National Flood Insurance program to allow it to continue paying the Sandy-related claims of homeowners who bought flood insurance. The $60.2 billion in aid is short of the $82 billion initially requested by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The legislative delays marked a stark contrast with the congressional response to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Gulf Coast communities and flooded New Orleans in 2005. Within 10 days of that storm, Congress had approved $62.3 billion in aid. Subsequent measures brought total taxpayer funds to rebuild the region to more than $100 billion.”
As Governor Chris Christie so eloquently expressed a month ago, it is utterly ridiculous that Congress and the Senate are using aid as bargaining tools. There are people in New Jersey and other areas that STILL do not have power. If these Senators and Congressmen didn’t have power for one hour they would have near epileptic seizures of rage. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these men and women are willing to play politics with any appropriates aside from their vacations and entitlements.
Just when I think these people can’t infuriate me anymore they, as usual, exceed expectations.
GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER CONGRESSMEN!
What do you think?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate