Senate rejects Paul amendment to offset Sandy recovery by cutting foreign aid

Paul introduced Amendment 3410, which would force Hurricane Sandy recovery to be paid out one year at a time and offset by cutting spending elsewhere. Paul said that only $9 billion is needed this year for Sandy recovery and that his amendment would pay for that by cutting the foreign aid fund by $9 billion.

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“I personally think we should not be sending billions of dollars to dictators in other countries who are burning our flags,” Paul said on the floor Friday. “People around here say, ‘well we’ve never offset emergency spending.’ Well, maybe that’s why we have a $16 trillion deficit. ... I say we take that $9 billion out of the foreign aid fund.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Paul’s amendment “represents a myopic misunderstanding of the world we live in.” Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Paul voted for the amendment, which failed on a 3-91 vote.

Paul’s second amendment, 3376, would have suspended the Davis-Bacon Act and allowed competitive wage bidding for contractors hired to help in Hurricane recovery efforts. Currently, federal construction workers are paid a “prevailing wage,” which is determined locally. Paul said that rule resulted in some non-union workers from the South being turned away from recovery work in the Northeast. That amendment failed on a 42-52 vote.

Another GOP amendment failed, which was introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Amendment 3355 would have removed $58 million in the bill for forest restoration in the form of planting trees on private property. McCain said that planting trees didn’t constitute an emergency.

“I love trees, but I’m not asking for any money for private owners in my state to plant trees. I think they can do that themselves,” McCain said on Friday. “It is an example of the kind of excess that has not had a priority around here to spend another $58 million of the taxpayers’ money.”

Several amendments have already passed and a vote on final passage is expected later Friday.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) withdrew his amendment, which he said would have changed the way disaster relief is released, because it required more debate and discussion in committee.