The House of Representatives today passed a package of more than $50 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief that will provide immediate aid to disaster-stricken areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, despite a flood of Republican opposition.The final package passed 241-180. Only 49 Republicans voted for it, while 179 Republicans and one Democrat voted against.
The bill was broken down into an immediate $17 billion in aid and a contentious amendment to add $33 billion in separate relief, which passed 228-192. Of the “no votes,” 190 were Republicans and two were Democrats. That amendment nearly tripled the size of the original bill.
Combined with the $9.7 billion bill the House passed on Jan. 4, the new package completes a $60.2 billion aid plan for Hurricane Sandy victims — 79 days after the storm hit the U.S.
Meanwhile, the House voted down the so-called Mulvaney amendment to the bill, 258-162. The amendment would have offset the $17 billion in aid with a 1.63 per cent cut to all discretionary appropriations in the 2013 budget.
Of the 162 voting in favour, 157 were Republicans and five were Democrats. Northeast lawmakers worried that if the Mulvaney amendment passed in the House, it could have complicated swift action in the Senate.
The House also rejected amendments that would have pared down the spending in the bill.
In a joint statement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy praised the House vote, though they chided its delay.
Here’s their full statement:
“We are grateful to those members of Congress who today pulled together in a unified, bipartisan coalition to assist millions of their fellow Americans in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut at their greatest time of need. The tradition of Congress being there and providing support for Americans during times of crisis, no matter where they live across this great country, lives on in today’s vote in the House of Representatives. We anticipate smooth passage when this package moves back to the Senate for final approval and for this long-awaited relief to finally make its way to our residents.”
Check below for a full breakdown of the Sandy relief bill and why it serves as a litmus test for fiscal conservatives.
The House is set to vote today on the second part of a Hurricane Sandy relief package that would provide more than $50 billion in aid to devastated areas.
The vote is receiving some grumbles from fiscal conservatives and outright opposition from conservative organisations like Heritage Action and Club for Growth, both of which are urging members to vote “no” on both the base bill and a $33.7 billion added by a New Jersey lawmaker.
The House will first vote on the House Appropriations Committee’s base bill, which provides $17 billion in immediate relief to disaster-stricken areas. Lawmakers are expected to add a $33.7 billion amendment from Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, which includes $10.9 billion for public transportation projects.
But the vote could get complicated as the House considers a slew of additional amendments — 12 more, to be exact. Particularly, lawmakers representing Sandy’s affected areas are concerned about an amendment added by Reps. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., Tom McClintock, R-Calif., Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.
As it stands, the Sandy relief bill does not include spending cuts and, therefore, adds to the deficit. The so-called “Mulvaney amendment” would offset the $17 billion in immediate aid with a 1.63 per cent cut to all discretionary appropriations in the 2013 budget.
“I know how important the supplemental relief is to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, but I believe we can provide that relief while finding ways to pay for it, rather than adding to the nation’s ballooning deficit,” Mulvaney said in a statement. “Indeed, if we cannot come together under these tragic circumstances to find a way to pay for this relief, do we seriously believe we will have the political will to ever balance the budget?”
Conservatives face the choice of more ire from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other northeast lawmakers or inciting the wrath of conservative groups like Club for Growth, which warned in a statement that it would score members based on their votes.
“Disasters may be unpredictable, but we know with 100% certainty that they will occur,” Andy Roth, Club for Growth’s vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.
“Therefore, Congress shouldn’t keep passing massive “emergency” relief bills that aren’t paid for, have little oversight, and are stuffed with pork. Also, Congress shouldn’t use disasters like Hurricane Sandy as an excuse to spend billions on long-term projects that should be considered during the regular appropriations process.”
It also could provide a glimpse into how firm conservatives are on implementing spending cuts with sets of fiscal battles looming on the debt ceiling, sequestration, and the government appropriation bill over the next two months.
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