NOT SO FAST! Campaign by conservatives, watchdog groups aim to trim $30 billion in 'pork' from long-delayed Sandy relief package
Rep. Peter King, a Republican, called resistance to the aid package 'disgraceful,' saying critics 'don’t know what they’re talking about.'
By Dareh Gregorian
January 13, 2013
Not so, um, fast, Sandy victims.
Conservatives and watchdog groups are waging a campaign they call Not So Fast aimed at trimming about $30 billion in “pork” from the long-delayed superstorm Sandy relief package.
Some of the aid the groups are targeting include $13 billion for projects to protect against future storms in the region and $12 billion in federal Housing and Urban Development block grants.
They’re also taking aim at $135 million to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration improve weather forecasting.
“A lot of the money goes to government agencies to rebuild rather than helping people actually afflicted by Sandy,” said Stephen Ellis, vice president of budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.
“Conservatives want to see a real plan that addresses real needs for Sandy,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told The Associated Press.
In a bid to balance concerns of conservatives and the frustration of lawmakers from affected states, House Speaker John Boehner has essentially broken the $51 billion relief bill into two parts.
The first, which was assembled by House Republicans, is a $17 billion proposal aimed at immediate Sandy recovery needs, including $5.4 billion for the transit systems of New York and New Jersey and $5.4 billion for FEMA’s disaster aid fund. The other $33 billion could then be voted on as an amendment.
Sen. Chuck Schumer told the Daily News the critics “want to have (the bill) die the death of a thousand cuts,” and that every dollar the states are seeking is necessary for recovery.
Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) called resistance to the aid package “disgraceful,” and said critics “don’t know what they’re talking about.”
“They’re treating us like a third-world country,” he said. “We’re just demanding what every other state has gotten when there’s a terrible natural disaster.”
King called the $13 billion to protect against future storms “common sense,” and said the HUD block grants are “vital” keys to rebuilding affected homes and businesses. He noted that Congress passed $50 billion in aid for Hurricane Katrina victims in just 10 days — and it’s now more than 10 weeks since Sandy struck the northeast.
Still, he predicted his colleagues would do the right thing when the bills finally come up for a vote on Tuesday. “I believe we have the votes we need,” he said.