H.R. 4667 - “Emergency” Disaster Aid Package: No
December 21, 2017
Vote Notes on Legislation
H.R. 4667 - “Emergency” Disaster Aid Package: No. I am disgusted that once natural disasters are being used as an excuse to load up an emergency relief bill with spending that could not stand scrutiny in the light of day. The long-standing test for emergency spending is that it must be for needs that are urgent, unforeseen, necessary and one-time. Using these criteria, the administration made a request for $44 billion for the damage from the recent hurricanes and wildfires.
Congress has since loaded up the bill with an additional $37 billion for everything from education, NASA research, Jobcorps programs, and long-term farm subsidies. This “emergency” even includes more money for Hurricane Sandy – an emergency that occurred five years ago and without any accountability of how it will be spent. Only $11 billion of this add-on will even be spent next year, calling into question how much is truly urgent. All this is in addition to the $52 billion that has already been spent on relief and recovery.
It is important to understand that the $37 billion congressional add-on amounts to nearly $300 per household, obviating a significant amount of the tax relief just approved, and worse, pushes that cost into the future.
The federal government has a responsibility to step in when disasters overwhelm local and state resources – that is part of the compact of our federal union. I supported the $52 billion in emergency relief already approved and am prepared to support the $44 billion requested by the President that meets the criteria for emergency disaster funding.
The additional $37 billion – that is non-urgent, recurring or at best only tangentially related to the disasters – needs to follow the regular appropriations process.