Pascrell Claims $50B Package ‘Line-for-Line’ for Sandy Relief

CNN anchor challenges NJ Dem on long-term spending in relief bill

• January 15, 2013 12:09 pm


Rep. Bill Pascrell (D., N.J.) claimed Tuesday the $50 billion package for Hurricane Sandy relief is "line-for-line" for its intended purpose in an interview with CNN.

The House is set to vote Tuesday on the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Act, a $17 billion bill designed to address immediate needs, and a $33 billion amendment proposed by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (D., N.J.), which includes long-term provisions.

"I think all the money that's in the bills now, including the base bill by Mr. Rodgers and the amendment to Mr. Rogers' bill by Mr. Frelinghuysen, deal directly with Sandy, number one," the New Jersey Democrat said in the interview after being challenged on the long-term spending. "Number two, this is money that has been documented if not by Gov. Christie, Gov. Cuomo, wherever the governors are in the three or four states that have been really impacted by this."

"I can assure you, looking line-for-line through this legislation that this is money that is needed in the funnel right now in order to get help to our citizens," Pascrell continued.

A number of Republicans have pushed back against the Frelinghuysen amendent:

This amendment, which is opposed by many hard-line conservatives, includes funding for longer-term recovery efforts and infrastructure improvements intended to help prevent damage caused by future disasters.

Nearly 100 additional amendments were offered to cut or offset money included in the underlying bill and Frelinghuysen amendment, including one offered by Rep. Paul Broun to strike $13,000,000 in funding  to "accelerate the National Weather Service ground readiness project."

"While my heart goes out to the victims of Hurricane Sandy, it is unacceptable for Congress to use this disaster as a justification for passing a bill chock-full of pork barrel spending," Broun, R-Ga., wrote in a statement Monday afternoon.  "My amendments to the bill simply and reasonably eliminate funding for any pet projects that are unrelated to emergencies brought on by Hurricane Sandy."

The Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month on the pork-filled provisions in the $60.4 billion package passed by the Senate:

FEMA would receive nearly $11.5 billion, unrelated to Sandy, for its Disaster Relief Fund. $3 million of the $11.5 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund would be directed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General for audits and investigations.

The Federal Highway Administration would also receive $921 million unrelated to Sandy. AMTRAK would receive $336 million without any stipulations or plans for how the money would be spent.

The bill is loaded will smaller giveaways beyond the large payouts to federal agencies.

NASA would receive $15 million for its facilities despite NASA itself calling the hurricane damage ‘minimal.’ $150 million would be spent on fisheries as far away from the relief zone as Alaska. The Department of Agriculture would receive $125 million to combat wildfires and drought. Smithsonian museums would receive $2 million to repair damaged roofs. $12.9 billion of the $60.4 bill has been set aside for future disaster mitigation activities and studies.