The Senate will soon vote on the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (H.R.152), which would provide $50.507 billion in “emergency” funding intended for disaster assistance for Hurricane Sandy relief.

While Hurricane Sandy was a major disaster, the majority of the funds originally requested by the Obama Administration were to be spent beyond FY 2014.  Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that just 30% of the outlays in the House-passed bill would be spent over the next 20 months.  Even in 2021 estimated outlays are over a billion dollars.

Furthermore, far too much of the funding goes toward superfluous programs that are not related to Hurricane Sandy relief, from repairs to the Smithsonian Institution to upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes to more funding for the federal government’s epic educational failure known as Head Start, among myriad other extraneous items.  The inclusion of $16 billion in wasteful community development funds is also concerning, especially because the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated it would need a comparatively much smaller $5.2 billion for its “unmet needs.”  These non-emergency measures prove how irresponsible Washington has grown, unabashedly using a natural disaster to spend more taxpayer money.

Rather than continuing to use Sandy victims’ plight as leverage to get their desired pork into the Sandy measure, lawmakers in the Senate should avoid contributing further to our deficits and refrain from passing legislation that would do just that.

Heritage Action opposes the Disaster Relief Act of 2013 and will include it as a vote on our scorecard. 

Related Links:

Heritage Action Scorecard
Heritage Action: Key Vote No on Sandy Supplemental (House)
Hurricane Sandy Relief: An Early Opportunity for Budgeting
Amendment Cuts Pork from Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill
Hurricane Sandy: Disaster Aid Request Too Big