WASHINGTON — This week an over $50 billion aid funding deal to help victims of Hurricane Sandy, which left hundreds of thousands without power for weeks, made its way out of the House, following a series of attempts to amend the bill to cut spending. There were even more minor, local-issue amendments, such as one originating from the Utah delegation, successfully passing, requiring that national parks not expand their territories.
The Salt Lake Tribune Thomas Burr wrote Tuesday:
Representative Bob Bishop’s [(R-UT)] amendment, which passed the House late Tuesday on a near party-line vote of 223-198, is aimed at ensuring the National Park Service doesn’t try to add land to its inventory . . . [Rep.] Bishop, along with fellow Utah GOP Reps. Jason Chaffetz [(R-UT)] and Chris Stewart [(R-UT)], voted against the overall Sandy relief bill.
The Hill’s Erik Wasson observed that some of the amendments that were offered in the House Rules Committee earlier in the process would have “offset the new spending in the bill through cuts to other programs, including by . . . cuts to domestic programs,” predicting that these domestic cuts would doom the aid package in the Senate. To The Hill, Representative Steve King (R) of heavily affected New York state, noted, “There have never been offsets before to emergency aid.”
Even in the less party-balanced House, though, proposed cuts to foreign spending died earlier in the legislative process this week than the floor. Speaking before the Rules Committee, Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL) tried to forward a source for funding for the monies that would be spent for disaster relief, offering amendments that would have cut into foreign aid, with the exception of aid going to Israel, Afghanistan or Pakistan. He said that servicing the debt with interest was already doing sufficient damage to the nation. “Twelve or 13 NASAs,” said Rep. Brooks in testimony, constituted the amount of funding it took to pay for the amount of borrowing in which the United States government is engaged.
Following alterations in committee, Tuesday afternoon Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) offered a floor amendment to the Hurricane Sandy relief package. Rep. Mulvaney’s amendment would have instated a 1.63 percent across-the-board discretionary spending cut, but 71 Republicans broke what was virtually total party rank to help block the amendment.
Interestingly, the largest newspaper in Rep. Mulvaney’s district, South Carolina’s 5th, only noted the representative this week, in an editorial, for his having made amends with House Speaker John Boehner after having opposed the speaker’s re-election to leadership with a “silent protest.” Rep. Mulvaney’s having rallied the entire GOP House base for spending cuts, as Northeastern Republicans pushed for aid funding, made surprisingly little wave in his home district press. The representative is the first Republican to represent that region since the 1880s, he having previously represented the voters of the 6th District.