NTU urges all Senators to vote “NO” on H.R. 268, the “Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2019.” This legislation would provide approximately $13.45 billion in un-offset funding in response to various natural disasters in 2018, including hurricanes and wildfires, adding significantly to our national debt crisis while leaving underlying issues unresolved.
One of the biggest challenges facing the 116th Congress is how to resolve our growing spending crisis. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), our annual deficit will soon top $1 trillion, interest payments on our debt have become the fastest-growing part of the federal budget, and the national debt is fast approaching $22 trillion. For those reasons, it’s essential that emergency funding is offset by commensurate cuts or budgetary shifts elsewhere. In the case of disaster spending, redirecting funds from the federal Disaster Relief Fund, which boasted a more than $17 billion surplus in its latest report (even accounting for anticipated FY19 obligations), would be an appropriate response.
Just as troubling is how this legislation would spend finite taxpayer funds. For example, the bill would provide more than $3 billion to agri-businesses, who recently secured an $867 billion farm bill on the basis that it would help avoid future disaster supplementals and assist farmers affected by 2018 events, and who have benefited from billions of dollars in “trade mitigation” payments. Even farms that did not bother to purchase crop insurance (of which taxpayers already directly subsidize sixty percent of the premium) are eligible for compensation up to seventy percent of a loss. The bill also expands payments to new beneficiaries, including timber, a crop already facing massive losses due to overproduction.
H.R. 268 rewards poor risk management, expands the role of the federal government, and increases the burden on taxpayers. Instead of an annual ad hoc approach, lawmakers should prioritize reforms that would better plan for and insure against the inevitable. This “buy-now, pay-later” model for disaster response fails both taxpayers and the communities affected.
Roll call votes on H.R. 268 will be included in NTU’s annual Rating of Congress and a “NO” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.
If you have any questions, please contact Nan Swift, Director of Federal Affairs, at (703) 683-5700