Senate Moves on Disaster Funding

Yesterday, a Senate subcommittee approved their version of the Homeland Security spending bill for fiscal year 2012.  The bill includes $6 billion in disaster relief funding, nearly double the amount passed by the House three months ago.

CQ (sub. req’d) has the details:

The Senate proposal, which does not include offsets for the additional disaster money, runs afoul of GOP plans in the House, where Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., wants to trim other parts of the budget to cover any increases. 

Obama administration officials and top congressional Democrats have supported the traditional approach of using emergency funds to pay for the federal response to disasters. 

“We’ll figure out how to pay for it later, but we want to get the help to them now,” [Panel Chairwoman Mary] Landrieu said, noting that the disaster fund still faces a shortfall of between $1 billion and $1.5 billion for the remainder of fiscal 2011. 

“We’re going to work very hard in the next few days to see if we can resolve that,” she said, adding that a “small, focused” supplemental spending measure may be needed for this year.

As the National Review pointed out last week, offsetting disaster relief spending is not unprecedented:

President Clinton signed legislation on at least four occasions that offset billions in disaster spending — including spending in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. 

In the mid-1990s, our federal debt hovered around $5 trillion.  Now, just a decade-and-a-half later, we’re fast approaching $15 trillion.  An “emergency” designation does not make deficit spending any less irresponsible.

As Heritage Action’s CEO Michael Needham points out, finding offsets should not be too difficult since federal spending has increased by $160 billion per year, on average, over the past decade.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress that Disasters Shouldn’t Mean Deficits


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