DEMOCRATS’ BILL CONTAINS $21 BILLION IN UNRELATED SPENDING
$150 million for Alaskan fisheries, $2 million to the Smithsonian to repair roofs and $8 million to Homeland Security and the Justice Department to buy cars. And that’s chump change compared to the rest.
The old Klansman, Robert Byrd, who was famous for adding West Virginia pork to senate bills, would be proud: The Democrats’ Hurricane Sandy “emergency relief” bill contains more than $21 billion in spending that has nothing to do with Sandy – let alone the devastated areas of New York or New Jersey. Yep, Harry Reid’s Porkfest 2012 does the late senator proud indeed.
Not only does the bill include hundreds of millions of dollars of new unrelated spending requests, it also contains multiple provisions that had previously been rejected or not yet considered by Congress. Included? A measure that alters how the federal government manages areas prone to flooding – a bill that was rejected by the House earlier this year. It gets worse:
• $58.8 million for forest restoration on private land.
$10.78 billion for public transportation, most of which is allocated to future construction and improvements, not disaster relief.
• $33.2 million for eight projects in Nevada – the home state of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, including: $25 million for rural Nevada; $1.5 million for Truckee Meadows; and $725,000 for Tahoe Regional Planning.
• $16.8 million for seven projects in West Virginia, including: $2.5 million for the Greenbrier River Basin; $325,000 for the Parkersburg and Vienna Riverfront Park; and $150,000 for Island Creek at Logan
• $12.9 million for 11 projects in the state of Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), including: $5 million for central New Mexico; $250,000 for Santa Fe; and $180,000 for the Southwest Valley, Albuquerque.
Same ol’ same ol’. Can’t wait to see what they try to tack on to whatever federal legislation is sure to come as a result of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Historically, “pork” is part of the horse-trading involved in the legislative process: In order to gain broad support, bills or proposals that would likely be defeated otherwise are included in emergency spending bills to buy votes. (Not dissimilar to O’s purchase of the 2012 election.)
While both parties have done it for decades, I would think – in light of present budgetary realities – that an emergency bill to aid victims of Hurricane Sandy who have waited weeks for help could sail through the Senate without politics as usual. Silly me.
And yesterday, in an attempt to peel off enough Senate Republicans to prevent a filibuster of their pork-laden bill, Senate Democrats began offering wavering Republicans pork goodies for their states as well. HR Amendment No. 3395 contains several handwritten notes that broaden the Hurricane Sandy relief bill to include coverage for other hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Isaac; dumping in a rewritten version of a bill by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) to construct levees in North Dakota; and dumping hundreds of million of dollars in particular areas.
Tens of thousands were affected by Hurricane Sandy, which killed at least 125 in the U.S. Homes were destroyed, communities obliterated and lives changed forever. But, hey – rather than focusing on providing desperately needed assistance to storm victims, Senate Democrats are seeking to capitalize on the tragedy by paying off supporters back home under the guise of emergency aid.