The House of Representatives just passed a $9 billion tranche of a total $60 Superstorm Sandy relief bill. It would greenlight the payment of flood insurance claims. The measure is expected to pass the Senate without objection.
As reported by Pergram-Capitol Hill: “The vote was 354 to 67. All nay votes were from Republicans, including a no from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).”
The vote follows a tirade by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who blasted Republicans for not passing the $60 billion bill, which frankly, would have been irresponsible. It is not even the place of the U.S. government to back insurance claims — but because Americans are compassionate and don’t want to leave others hung out to dry, most people believe a modicum of aid to those in need is appropriate.
Yet once again, both parties in Congress took advantage of an emotional and volatile situation — the ongoing fallout from Superstorm Sandy — in order to propose a pork-chocked piece of legislation. The $60 billion so-called “relief bill” contains money for high speed rail, perpetually bankrupt Amtrak, fisheries in American Samoa (see — Nancy Pelosi), and roof repair for museums in Washington D.C. Even New York City Mayor Bloomberg disagreed with the extraneous items in the Sandy bill.
Just the cost of the entire Sandy relief bill, for example, represents the entire tax “revenue” for one year that the fiscal cliff deal was supposed to generate from tax hikes on the non-privileged rich. That’s perhaps why a day after the deal was done, the president released a video suggesting that he sought to tax the rich even more. Not a word about cutting spending, which is something 62% of Americans want across-the-board, and 68% wanted as a part of the fiscal cliff deal.
So, focusing one’s outrage solely at Speaker Boehner for holding the bill up for a few days to “see what’s in it” was misplaced, and the delay was due to politicians in both parties loading the bill up with pet projects — what Mayor Bloomberg called the “Christmas Tree Effect.” Boehner should have cracked the Whip on those greedy Republican Congressmen in the House, and both parties should have demonstrated some restraint.
In general, both parties have to be careful and prudent with taxpayer money, given the nation’s dwindling finances. Generosity may not have limits, but our economy does. Yet it seems like a legitimate role of government to get emergency relief to those who need it in an expedient fashion, especially given that we are already paying billions for FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. And once again, those agencies predictably dropped the ball.