Senate votes to block Hurricane Sandy relief for tax cheats, dead people

The Senate on Friday approved an amendment to a Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill that would prohibit dead people and anyone with "serious delinquent tax debts" from receiving the funds. 

The Senate approved the amendment from Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnRyan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight The Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him MORE (R-Okla.) in a voice vote, along with several other amendments to the bill.

The Democratic legislation would provide $60 billion in spending for Sandy cleanup, but Coburn and Republicans have said for the last several weeks that the bill is much bigger than it needs to be. Many GOP senators put forward amendments aimed at reducing the size of the bill, some of which are being considered Friday.

House Republicans, meanwhile, have yet to take up any bill, but have also indicated that they would prefer legislation that is narrowly tailored to addressing only Sandy-related damages.

Under Coburn's language, a "seriously delinquent tax debt" means any debt against which a notice of lien has been filed by the IRS, unless efforts are being made to repay that debt.

On the idea of dead people getting money, Coburn has said the government continues to send millions of dollars to deceased people through the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies, and that the government needs to continue to crack down against this fraud.

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The GOP has also put forward a substitute amendment to the Democratic bill that would only spend $24 billion. The Senate will get a chance to vote on that proposal, from Sen. Dan CoatsDan CoatsDem groups invest big in Bayh in Ind. Senate race Indiana Senate race tightens as Republicans take on Bayh Conservative group targets Evan Bayh on ObamaCare MORE (R-Ind.), later in the day.

In morning votes, Republicans successfully blocked additional efforts by Democrats to increase the cost of the Sandy relief bill. One proposal came from Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who proposed language committing the U.S. to provide aid in response to Super Typhoon Bopha that hit the Republic of Palau.

Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff SessionsJeff Sessions3 ways the next president can succeed on immigration reform Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears Trump, Clinton discuss counterterrorism with Egyptian president MORE (R-Ala.) argued that this language would approve a compact that hasn't been brought before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and would commit the U.S. to more spending. The Senate rejected the amendment in a 52-43 vote; 60 votes were needed for passage.

Sen. Jon TesterJon TesterOvernight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Overnight Energy: Judges scrutinize Obama climate rule Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears MORE (D-Mont.) proposed an additional $653 million on the bill for wildland fire management. But Sessions raised a point of order against that proposal, and the Senate failed to waive it in a 51-44 vote.

That vote means Tester's proposed language would not have been considered emergency spending; as a result, Tester pulled his amendment.

Elsewhere, Sen. John McCainJohn McCainMedia must demand Clinton disavow Dean's cocaine comments EpiPen investigation shows need for greater pricing transparency, other reforms Green Beret awarded for heroism during 'pandemonium' of Boston bombing MORE (R-Ariz.) withdrew an amendment that would have conditioned the bill's funding for Amtrak on the submission of a plan to Congress on how the funds will be spent, and to restrict the use of funding for expenses associated with Hurricane Sandy.

Several other amendments were approved en bloc on Friday morning, including amendments from:

• Sen. Ben CardinBen CardinSenate poised to override Obama veto US general calls out Pakistan on support for Afghan militants Top Dem: 'Risk factor' to extending Iran sanctions in lame duck MORE (D-Md.), to strike language giving the Small Business Administration $5 million.

• Coburn, to reduce, from $1 million to $500,000, the level of grants that the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development must notify to Congress.

• Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinWH tried to stop Intel Dems' statement on Russian hacking: report This week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Election hacks, Yahoo breach in the spotlight MORE (D-Calif.), allowing funds to be used for studies aimed at reducing flood and storm damage risks along the Atlantic Coast or the Mississippi Valley that were hit by Hurricanes Isaac or Sandy.

• Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyThe Trail 2016: Fight night Clinton, Trump tied in Iowa, Grassley leads in Senate race Senate rivals gear up for debates MORE (R-Iowa), to relocate vehicles used by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., to the Northeast to replace those damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

• Sen. Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa), making technical corrections to language dealing with National Institutes of Health funding.

• Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuLouisiana needs Caroline Fayard as its new senator La. Senate contender books seven-figure ad buy Crowded field muddies polling in Louisiana Senate race MORE (R-La.), allowing the federal government to reimburse states and localities for government worker costs related to disaster recovery.

• Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyOvernight Cybersecurity: FBI probes possible hack of Dems' phones | Trump's '400-pound hacker' | Pressure builds on Yahoo | Poll trolls run wild Dems slam Yahoo CEO over delay in acknowledging hack Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (D-Vt.), to provide authority to transfer previously appropriated funds to increase security at U.S. embassies and other overseas posts.