GOP lawmaker to offer amendments to scale back Sandy relief bill

GOP Rep. Tom McClintock (Calif.) is planning to offer proposals to whittle down the size of the $50.7 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package being considered next week in the House, and says other Republicans will do the same.

"I expect there will be an effort to amend out unrelated appropriations," McClintock said in an interview with The Hill. McClintock said he is looking at offering more than one amendment to the package.

ADVERTISEMENT
McClintock is one of 67 Republicans who voted against last week's $9.7 billion Sandy relief bill, which let the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) go deeper into debt to pay off Sandy-related claims. McClintock said he opposed expanding the debt of a program that has proven itself to be actuarially unsound.

Next week, he and other Republicans are expected to argue that the $50.7 billion package can be trimmed by eliminating all spending not directly related to helping people cope with the damage done by Sandy.

"These disaster bills are becoming pork spending," he said. "There's lots of spending in these bills that has nothing to do with the disaster."



The $60.4 billion bill passed by the Senate at the end of the 112th Congress came under fire from Republicans for providing money for states far away from the Northeast, where Sandy struck.

House Republicans believe their Sandy proposal is better. It consists of a base bill of $17 billion that would fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency, help repair buildings and provide money for transit authorities in New York and New Jersey.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) has also offered a $33.7 billion amendment that supporters describe as an effort to fund longer-term activities aimed at mitigating future storm damage. For example, it would give the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration half a billion dollars to improve severe-weather forecasts and warnings.

Frelinghuysen has said his amendment is an improvement over the Senate bill because all the aid is local to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. But McClintock said much of this money cannot be classified as urgent, and should be taken out of the bill.

"It has nothing to do with disaster relief," he said.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said the House would hold votes on the Sandy package on Jan. 15. As of the middle of this week, it was unclear how many amendments might be proposed, and how many the House Rules Committee would allow to be considered on the House floor.

Amendments to cut the size of the bill are likely to lead to division among Republicans, just as last week's NFIP vote split the party. Democratic support to maintain the size of the bill — and possibly expand it further — means McClintock and other Republicans face an uphill fight in trying to shrink the bill.

"But that's not an argument for not trying," he said.