WASHINGTON – The House extended $50 billion in assistance to victims of Superstorm Sandy following debate last week over the amount of aid and whether it should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.
Lawmakers voted 241-180 for a bill that began as $17 billion for the immediate needs of East Coast communities hit by the October storm, then was expanded with $33.7 billion for long-term flood control and other projects.
Reps. Steven Horsford and Dina Titus, both D-Nev., voted for the bill. Reps, Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, both R-Nev., voted against it.
Budget hawks complained the added spending included projects unrelated to the storm and said the emergency funding should be offset by cuts elsewhere.
An amendment submitted by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., sought to offset $17 billion with a 1.63 percent across-the-board cut from all federal agencies.
“The time has come and gone in this nation when we can walk in here one day and spend $9 billion or $17 billion or $60 billion and not think about who’s paying for it,” Mulvaney said.
Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., responded by calling the proposed cuts “extreme.” He noted Congress has not offset spending for past natural emergencies.
The Mulvaney amendment was backed by the conservative Club for Growth, an interest group that issues report cards on how Congress votes on fiscal matters.
The amendment was defeated, 162-258. Amodei and Heck voted for it, while Horsford and Titus voted against it.
The House voted 327-91 for the basic $17 billion aid package. Horsford, Titus, Heck and Amodei voted for it.
Subsequently, an amendment to expand the recovery package from $17 billion to $50.5 billion passed 228-192. Horsford and Titus voted for it. Amodei and Heck voted against it.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.