Hensarling, Pence seek Katrina offsets

Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) sent a letter yesterday to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) asking that his committee find spending cuts to offset the administration’s emergency funding request for the storm-damaged Gulf Coast.

The White House asked Congress earlier this month for $92 billion. The Appropriations Committee has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow to consider that request.

Hensarling and Pence also asked Lewis to keep the supplemental spending bill “clean” of projects not requested by the president to “help ensure timely passage” and to pass the measure as a stand-alone bill instead of bundling it with other pieces of supplemental spending bills.

“It’s simply time we restore fiscal discipline to this process and pay for expenditures by making choices among competing spending priorities,” the two wrote in their letter to Lewis.

Hensarling and Pence led a movement to offset federal spending last fall after the White House requested $62 billion in emergency relief after two hurricanes ripped through the Gulf Coast, demolishing parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Those communities are still struggling to recover.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced yesterday that they would lead a bipartisan congressional delegation to the region, leaving Thursday.