The Republican-led House Rules Committee late Monday approved a rule for a massive Hurricane Sandy relief package that shuts out most GOP proposals to pare back the size of the bill.
The main bill provides $17 billion in relief, and an amendment made in order would add another $33.7 billion, for a total of $50.7 billion.
Late last week, Republicans offered amendments that would trim the bill significantly, but few of those were made "in order" by the Rules Committee on Monday. For example, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) proposed amendments that would have slashed $22 billion from the total package, but none of them were accepted by the committee.
And Rep. Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounHundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Joe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia California lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment MORE (R-Ga.) proposed several amendments that would have cut more than $300 million from the bill. House Rules made just one of these in order — to cut $13 million in funding to "accelerate the National Weather Service ground readiness project."
All told, Republican amendments were made in order that would cut less than $200 million from the $50.7 billion package. One of these, from Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE (R-Texas), would cut $150 million for Regional Ocean Partnership grants.
Another amendment made in order, from Rep. John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingLobbying world Trump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress MORE (R-La.), would cut nearly $10 million from the Fish & Wildlife Service. And one from Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) would cut $1 million for the Legal Services Corporation, which provides legal aid to low-income Americans.
Preventing votes on the larger proposals to cut back the size of the bill reveals the ongoing split within the Republican Party about whether disaster aid should be off set. It is also likely to draw anger from conservatives later in the week, when the bill is considered. Just a few weeks ago, 67 House Republicans voted against a $9.7 billion Sandy aid bill because they believed it would allow the National Flood Insurance Program to go deeper into debt without any reforming of the program.
McClintock told The Hill last week that he and many other Republicans believe this week's Sandy relief bill is filled with expensive items that are not critical to providing relief for victims of Sandy.
"These disaster bills are becoming pork spending," he said. "There's lots of spending in these bills that has nothing to do with the disaster."
The only chance Republicans will have to mitigate a significant piece of the bill is by voting for an amendment from Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) that was made in order. His language would require a 1.63 percent cut to discretionary programs to make up for the $17 billion in spending in the main bill.
During the Rules Committee hearing, Republicans and Democrats indicated support for keeping away the bigger amendments that might have complicated passed in both the House and the Senate.
"I am requesting an appropriate rule for this legislation to ensure swift passage," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said. "Hurricane Sandy has brought much of the Northeast region to its knees, and, as it has been in the past, it is once again our duty to help our people and their communities get back on their feet in a timely fashion."
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said she worried about holding votes on GOP amendments that she said would be seen as a "poison pill."
"I am deeply concerned the rule will make in order so many as to constitute filibuster by amendment, or any number of small reduction amendments making for death by a thousand cuts," she said. "I ask the Committee not to propose a rule that hinders swift House passage of a bill the Senate can pass and the President can sign."
The House will start work on the Sandy package Tuesday by taking up the rule for the bill, but might finish the bill by Wednesday. Other amendments made in order by the Rules Committee are from:
Jon Runyan (R-N.J.), to clarify that money in the bill for fisheries can be used by states that were hit by Sandy and suffered a fisheries disaster in 2012;
John Campbell (R-Calif.) and Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerIlhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Milestone bill would bar imports linked to forest destruction First new congressional map approved in Oregon after 2020 Census MORE (D-Ore.), clarifying the use of federal funds for Corps of Engineers construction projects;
Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), increasing the Community Development Fund by $25 million, and offsetting that increase elsewhere in the bill;
Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), requiring FEMA to disclose all disaster relief grants;
Dan BenishekDaniel (Dan) Joseph BenishekFormer Republican Rep. Dan Benishek dies at 69 Republican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds Tea Party class reassesses record MORE (R-Mich.), to restore a requirement that local investments are required in Historic Preservation Grants;
Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopGOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change House Republicans who didn't sign onto the Texas lawsuit OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Westerman tapped as top Republican on House Natural Resources Committee | McMorris Rodgers wins race for top GOP spot on Energy and Commerce | EPA joins conservative social network Parler MORE (R-Utah), to prohibit the government from acquiring any more federal land under the bill; and
Velazquez, to increase funding for the National Cemetery Administration by $1 million.
— Erik Wasson contributed