WASHINGTON — House conservatives opposed to more deficit spending tried Monday to chip away at the $50.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package by requiring offsetting spending cuts to pay for recovery efforts and by stripping money for projects they say are unrelated to the Oct. 29 storm or not urgently needed.
The push by budget hawks for amendments sets up a fight with Northeast lawmakers in both parties eager to provide recovery aid for one of the worst storms ever to strike the region as the House moves toward expected votes today on the emergency spending package.
The base $17 billion bill by the House Appropriations Committee is aimed at immediate Sandy recovery needs, including $5.4 billion for New York and New Jersey transit systems and $5.4 billion for FEMA's disaster relief aid fund.
Northeast lawmakers will have a chance to add to that bill with an amendment by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., for an additional $33.7 billion, including $10.9 billion for public transportation projects.
The Club for Growth, a conservative group, on Monday urged lawmakers to oppose both Sandy aid measures.
Congress shouldn't keep passing massive ‘emergency' relief bills that aren't paid for, have little oversight, and are stuffed with pork, the club said in a statement.
Sandy aid supporters, nonetheless, voiced confidence Monday they would prevail. The Senate passed a $60.4 billion Sandy aid package in December with bipartisan support.
We have more than enough votes, I'm confident of that, said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., claiming a base of strong support from Democrats as well as Republicans from the Northeast and other states for both the base $17 billion bill and the amendment for the additional $33.7 billion.
As with past natural disasters, the $50.7 billion Sandy aid package does not provide for offsetting spending cuts, meaning the aid comes at the cost of higher deficits.