By Erik Wasson
The Republican congressman leading a fight to pass $50 billion in additional emergency spending for Hurricane Sandy is outraged by the nearly 100 amendments that have been filed to the bill.
Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) on Monday told The Hill that the amendment free-for-all runs counter to assurances Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) made to him on Jan. 2 that the bill would be given expedited treatment.
King and other Republicans, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, publicly denounced Boehner for withdrawing the bill, and some lawmakers hinted they would not vote for Boehner when he came up for reelection as Speaker the next day.
House leaders in the new Congress split the bill up, allowing a $9.7 billion flood insurance measure to pass.
On Tuesday, a $17 billion bill with a $34 billion amendment is slated to hit the floor.
“We were told the bill was coming up as is,” King said. By Friday, 92 amendments were filed to the bill.
“Obviously, some of them would kill the bill,” King said.
Rules Committee ranking member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) denounced the number of amendments in a Monday statement.
“Instead of simply considering a clean measure, the majority has submitted over 45 amendments to the Rules Committee to cut, hinder or offset the aid found in this package. Never in the modern history of the United States have victims of a natural disaster waited this long — 78 days and counting — to receive federal aid,” she said.
King said he has been told that 15 or more amendments could be ruled in order by the Rules Committee later on Monday.
“That makes it very difficult ... this isn’t what we expected,” he said.
Some of the amendments offset the new spending in the bill through cuts to other programs, including by imposing across-the-board cuts to domestic programs. King said that could make the bill toxic in the Senate.
King said he still thinks that Democrats and Northeast Republicans can successfully team up to defeat the amendments.
“I still expect to win it,” he said. “I still think it is going to pass.”
He said the targeted spending cuts and offsets are tempting for his conference, and that 15 amendments could “wear out” his allies.
“Every dollar is needed. There have never been offsets before to emergency aid,” he said.