Obama promised there would be “no bureaucracy” and “no red tape” in the Hurricane Sandy response but his $60 billion emergency aid package includes tens of millions in questionable funding. ABC News reports:
$23 million for tree plantings to “help reduce flood effects, protect water sources, decrease soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat” in forested areas touched by Sandy; $2 million to repair roof damage at Smithsonian buildings in Washington that pre-dates the storm; $4 million to repair sand berms and dunes at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; and $41 million for clean-up and repairs at eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The FBI is seeking $4 million to replace “vehicles, laboratory and office equipment and furniture,” while Customs and Border Protection wants $2.4 million to replace “destroyed or damaged vehicles, including mobile X-Ray machines.”
Republicans have pointed out that the price of the recovery package would nearly erase any new revenue raised by increasing taxes on the top two percent of taxpayers, as proposed by Democrats. Republicans have also questioned why such a large emergency relief bill is being rushed through Congress when FEMA still has $5 billion in its Disaster Relief Fund, which would last until March 2013.