WASHINGTON — The House extended $50 billion in assistance to victims of Hurricane 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.
Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted for the final bill. Reps. Tom Cotton, R-Dardenelle, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, voted against it.
Budget hawks complained the added spending included projects unrelated to the storm. They also argued the emergency funding should be offset by cuts in other programs.
An amendment 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 Club for Growth, an interest group that backs conservatives for federal office and issues report cards on how Congress votes on fiscal matters.
The amendment was defeated, 162-258. Cotton and Griffin voted for it while Crawford and Womack voted against it.
The House voted 327-91 for the basic $17 billion aid package. Crawford, Griffin and Womack voted for the bill. Cotton voted against it.
Subsequently, an amendment to expand the recovery package from $17 billion to $50.5 billion passed 228-192. Crawford, Cotton, Griffin and Womack voted against expanding the bill.