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 CoburnDon't be fooled: Carper and Norton don't fight for DC Coburn: Trump's tweets aren't presidential The road ahead for America’s highways 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.
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 SessionsPoll: By 2 to 1 margin, registered voters reject Comey Bharara joining NYU Law School after being fired by Trump NY attorney general hires prosecutor likely to target Trump administration: report 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 Defense: Defense chief pushes budget boost, new war authorization | Senate friction over potential NATO addition Defense chief after Trump tweet: NATO doesn't track 'past money owed' Eye on 2018: Five special elections worth watching 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 McCainOvernight Defense: Defense chief pushes budget boost, new war authorization | Senate friction over potential NATO addition GOP rep pushes to lift Pentagon spending caps McCain: Not passing defense spending bill would be 'almost criminal' 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 CardinRand Paul roils the Senate with NATO blockade Lawmakers want Trump commitment to help Iraq post-ISIS Trump's budget revealed his priorities. Now the fun begins. 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 FeinsteinLive coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Dems land few punches on Gorsuch Live coverage: Day two of Supreme Court nominee hearing 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 GrassleyLive coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Live coverage: Day two of Supreme Court nominee hearing Grassley, CNN host spar over Trump wiretap claims 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 LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (R-La.), allowing the federal government to reimburse states and localities for government worker costs related to disaster recovery.
• Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyLive coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing Dems land few punches on Gorsuch Live coverage: Day two of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (D-Vt.), to provide authority to transfer previously appropriated funds to increase security at U.S. embassies and other overseas posts.