Efforts to eliminate pork and offset spending from the Hurricane Sandy relief package failed Tuesday night, as President Barack Obama and Democrats declared victory for an aid bill that will total over $60 billion.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) sponsored an amendment that would have administered a 1.63% cut to discretionary programs to fund the $17 billion baseline bill. "The time has come and gone in this nation where we can walk in here one day and spend nine or 17 or 60 billion dollars and not think about who's paying for it," said Rep. Mulvaney.
However, the measure was defeated 162-258. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) voted against the Mulvaney amendment; Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) voted for it. Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Hal Rogers (R-KY) blasted the effort to offset spending, saying it would involve “devastating slash and burn cuts” that would “totally discriminate, cutting the good and the bad.”
On top of the $17 billion bill, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) offered another amendment that added $33.7 billion to the aid package. That measure passed 228-192, with 20 Republicans from unaffected areas voting for it. As Human Events notes, the Frelinghuysen amendment was loaded with superfluous spending, including “$500 million for weather forecasting and to help create an ocean zoning plan–the later one of Obama’s pet projects. Also included are $10 million for FBI salaries $2 billion for road construction across the country, as well as funding for the Head Start program, roof repairs at the Smithsonian, and $150 million for fisheries across the country.”
The third piece of the relief package involved a $9 billion bill passed earlier this month for the National Flood Insurance Program.
But as with most legislative efforts, say critics, the devil is in the details. Take, for example, the Frelinghuysen amendment. According to Patrick Louis Knudsen of the Heritage Foundation:
One of the most stunning elements in the amendment is $16 billion for the Community Development Block Grant, a slush fund that states and localities can hand out pretty much anywhere they choose. The amendment contains several pages of language ostensibly aimed at restricting use of the funds, but also says they can be applied to “other eligible events in calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013.” It’s just a guess, but events in 2011 and 2013 are not likely the result of Hurricane Sandy. This is the kind of spending that helps unravel coherent budgeting and contributes to chronic, trillion-dollar deficits.
American Majority Action, which emerged as an early leader in opposing efforts to pack pork into the Sandy relief package, says neither the $17 billion base bill nor the $33 billion Frelinghuysen amendment offset spending, and less than 20% of the aid they promise will be received in 2013.
In an email to Breitbart News, American Majority Action Press Secretary Ron Meyer said big spending Republicans have much to explain:
Republicans run the House of Representatives, yet, somehow, the House passed a pork-ridden, unpaid-for bill. More than 80 percent of this supposed ‘emergency’ bill will be spent after 2013, and $1 of every $20 will be spent on pork projects. Of all bills, did we really need to load up Sandy aid with pork? How much lower can Congress get?
America has come to expect this disgraceful behavior from Democrats, but now, under Speaker Boehner, get ready for more bills like this one. Less than 20 percent of House Republicans supported this measure. Speaker Boehner and the liberal-leaning Republicans worked with Democrats to pass it anyway.
Expect this coalition of liberal-leaning Republicans and liberal Democrats to continue. They are now the voting majority.
Wednesday, Mike Flynn of Breitbart News said the 20 Republicans who voted for the pork-laden Frelinghuysen amendment may now face stiff primary opposition.
The Senate is expected to take action on the House bill next week.