House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday raised objections to the Senate spending bill aimed at providing Hurricane Sandy relief.
“Hurricane Sandy was an extraordinary disaster, and Congress has a responsibility to help the recovery effort. We all are committed to quickly meeting the needs of the communities affected by the storm,” he said in a statement provided to The Hill.
“But we would violate that commitment if we directed resources away from where they’re needed most. The Senate bill is packed with funding for unrelated items such as commercial fisheries in American Samoa and roof repair of museums in Washington, D.C.”
Ryan so far is stopping short of saying he wants any disaster funding offset by spending cuts, something conservatives have sought in the past. But he is clearly seeking a smaller bill.
“Only 64 percent of the bill’s $60.4 billion will be spent within the next two years. We need to ensure the necessary resources are provided in response to true emergency needs,” he said.
“With $60.4 billion in supplemental funding for 65 programs spread across 19 agencies, we must make sure that every dollar we spend is directly related to the recovery effort. We must ensure that the relevant agencies have sufficient resources to continue assistance to Sandy’s victims.”
Ryan’s views carry a lot of weight in his conference and could influence House appropriators who have been looking into the White House request for $60.4 billion in aid, which formed the basis of the Senate bill.
The conservative groups Heritage Action is key voting against the bill.
The House Appropriations Committee has not yet said how it wants to proceed and is waiting on the Senate result.
The Senate is poised to vote as early as Friday on ending a filibuster to the Sandy bill. Senate Republicans have offered a $24-billion Hurricane Sandy bill that they say cuts out extraneous spending and focuses on immediate needs.
On Thursday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned the Republicans from disaster-prone regions may not get help from the Northeast if they do not agree to pay for Sandy damage now.