NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on H.R. 2266, “Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017.” This massive emergency spending bill, the second in a series of at least three expected in response to recent natural disasters, will significantly increase our national debt and leaves underlying problems unresolved.
At $36.5 billion, if H.R. 2266 were its own agency, it would be the seventh-largest in terms of discretionary dollars, just behind the Department of Homeland Security. This is an enormous sum of money to add to our $20.4 trillion national debt. That’s why when emergency funds are required, even under short-notice, it’s essential that lawmakers offset this spending with commensurate cuts elsewhere.
Equally important, given the current outsized scope of disaster-related costs, Congress must reconsider how we respond and plan for such emergencies. This costly ad hoc approach not only compounds our spending crisis, it ignores essential reforms that could blunt the effects of future events. The $16 billion bailout of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), already $25 billion in debt, is a perfect example. Any such action should be paired with reforms that put NFIP on a sustainable path. These include increasing private insurance options, improved mapping, and incentivizing flood mitigation. Likewise, disaster assistance should be better budgeted ahead of time. Federal, state, and local community leaders should prioritize efforts and funding to better plan and insure against the inevitable.
In addition, bringing up a bill of this magnitude, both in terms of policy and price tag, under suspension is problematic to taxpayers who, as a matter of basic stewardship, deserve a robust debate and amendment process. This “buy-now, pay later” model for disaster response fails both the communities affected and taxpayers. Unnecessarily increasing our debt without serious deliberation only hastens an economic disaster.
Roll call votes on H.R. 2266 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.
This post has been updated to reflect current legislative action.