The Senate on Friday approved an amendment to a Hurricane Sandy disaster relief bill that would prohibit dead people and anyone with "serious delinquent tax debts" from receiving the funds.
The Senate approved the amendment from Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnBiden and AOC's reckless spending plans are a threat to the planet NSF funding choice: Move forward or fall behind DHS establishes domestic terror unit within its intelligence office MORE (R-Okla.) in a voice vote, along with several other amendments to the bill.
The Democratic legislation would provide $60 billion in spending for Sandy cleanup, but Coburn and Republicans have said for the last several weeks that the bill is much bigger than it needs to be. Many GOP senators put forward amendments aimed at reducing the size of the bill, some of which are being considered Friday.
House Republicans, meanwhile, have yet to take up any bill, but have also indicated that they would prefer legislation that is narrowly tailored to addressing only Sandy-related damages.
Under Coburn's language, a "seriously delinquent tax debt" means any debt against which a notice of lien has been filed by the IRS, unless efforts are being made to repay that debt.
On the idea of dead people getting money, Coburn has said the government continues to send millions of dollars to deceased people through the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies, and that the government needs to continue to crack down against this fraud.
The GOP has also put forward a substitute amendment to the Democratic bill that would only spend $24 billion. The Senate will get a chance to vote on that proposal, from Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race Cyber preparedness could save America's 'unsinkable aircraft carrier' MORE (R-Ind.), later in the day.
In morning votes, Republicans successfully blocked additional efforts by Democrats to increase the cost of the Sandy relief bill. One proposal came from Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who proposed language committing the U.S. to provide aid in response to Super Typhoon Bopha that hit the Republic of Palau.
Senate Budget Committee ranking member Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE (R-Ala.) argued that this language would approve a compact that hasn't been brought before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and would commit the U.S. to more spending. The Senate rejected the amendment in a 52-43 vote; 60 votes were needed for passage.
Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act Democrats struggle to gain steam on Biden spending plan The Hill's 12:30 Report: Debt ceiling fight punted to December MORE (D-Mont.) proposed an additional $653 million on the bill for wildland fire management. But Sessions raised a point of order against that proposal, and the Senate failed to waive it in a 51-44 vote.
That vote means Tester's proposed language would not have been considered emergency spending; as a result, Tester pulled his amendment.
Elsewhere, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Biden-Harris train wreck may have its savior: 2024 GOP nominee Donald Trump Kelly raises million in third quarter Legislative limbo — how low can they go? MORE (R-Ariz.) withdrew an amendment that would have conditioned the bill's funding for Amtrak on the submission of a plan to Congress on how the funds will be spent, and to restrict the use of funding for expenses associated with Hurricane Sandy.
Several other amendments were approved en bloc on Friday morning, including amendments from:
• Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' GOP disappointment with McConnell deal could delay vote MORE (D-Md.), to strike language giving the Small Business Administration $5 million.
• Coburn, to reduce, from $1 million to $500,000, the level of grants that the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development must notify to Congress.
• Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinJane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California Overnight Health Care — Presented by The National Council on Mental Wellbeing — Merck asks FDA to authorize five-day COVID-19 treatment Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ MORE (D-Calif.), allowing funds to be used for studies aimed at reducing flood and storm damage risks along the Atlantic Coast or the Mississippi Valley that were hit by Hurricanes Isaac or Sandy.
• Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa), to relocate vehicles used by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security in Washington, D.C., to the Northeast to replace those damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
• Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinFCC needs to help services for the deaf catch up to videoconferencing tech Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Ex-Rep. Abby Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa MORE (D-Iowa), making technical corrections to language dealing with National Institutes of Health funding.
• Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (R-La.), allowing the federal government to reimburse states and localities for government worker costs related to disaster recovery.
• Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Judiciary squares off over John Lewis voting rights bill Senate Democrats introduce legislation to strengthen Voting Rights Act 92 legal scholars call on Harris to preside over Senate to include immigration in reconciliation MORE (D-Vt.), to provide authority to transfer previously appropriated funds to increase security at U.S. embassies and other overseas posts.