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Vote Alert

NTU Urges Senators to Vote No on Pork Filled Sandy Supplemental Bill

December 18, 2012

NTU urges Senators to oppose the Hurricane Sandy relief supplemental package, being considered as a substitute amendment to H.R. 1. Weighing in at a whopping $60.4 billion, the legislation far exceeds its purported mission of meeting the needs of the individuals and communities affected by the October storm.

Instead, the Sandy relief bill exploits a loophole in the Budget Control Act that permits spending above the $1.047 trillion discretionary appropriations cap by designating numerous “stimulus”-type and other politically-driven projects as emergency in nature. Among these questionable expenditures are:

  • $125 million for the Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Watershed Protection program that restores watersheds damaged by drought and wildfires;
  • $17 billion in Community Development Block Grants for various purposes;
  • $336 million to Amtrak, not only for damages not covered by insurance, but to cover operating expenses and increase train capacity;
  • $150 million for “fishery disasters” including fisheries in Mississippi and Alaska; and
  • $15 million for NASA, $2 million for Smithsonian museum roofs in DC, and $50 million for the National Park Service Historical Preservation Fund – all programs that have suffered minimal damage when compared to those who have lost everything.

While it may be true, as Senator Begich (D-AK) has said, that Chinook salmon have suffered, the impact of Hurricane Sandy on people’s immediate well-being should be the focus of this package. The projects above are far from urgent and should be considered as part of the regular budget negotiations process that permits open and thorough debate to determine their necessity. Especially since we are approaching yet another debt ceiling breech, Congress shouldn’t be abusing emergency spending to pay for pet projects. In addition, funds that go out the door for emergency supplemental packages still come with a serious cost that needs to be offset with equally serious cuts elsewhere in the budget. In the long term, Congress needs to rethink how it deals with future disasters to ensure that taxpayers aren’t left footing the bill for what private insurance, states, and local governments should be managing and mitigating.

Roll call votes on H.R. 1 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress. A “No” vote is considered the pro-taxpayer position.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager Nan Swift at (703) 683-5700.