Senator Chuck Grassley said that his amendment to require the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security to identify and relocate vehicles based at their Washington, D.C. headquarters that are used for non-operational purposes to replace those damaged by Hurricane Sandy passed the Senate by voice vote. The amendment is now included in the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations Act.
"Hurricane Sandy did tremendous damage, and we must help the area recover. But, that doesn't mean we should simply throw money at federal agencies for emergency spending if a viable alternative exists. Taxpayers expect this money to be spent wisely for people hurting, not for federal vehicles when there are hundreds of vehicles sitting at agency headquarters," Grassley said.
The request from the Obama Administration for Hurricane Sandy included funding for the replacement of vehicles under the control of various federal agencies. This included $4 million for vehicles for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, $1 million for the Drug Enforcement Administration, $855,000 for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $300,000 for the U.S. Secret Service, $230,000 for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and $20,000 for the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.
The Grassley amendment requires the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to find, within seven days of passage of the bill, any and all vehicles under each agency's control that are not being used for operational purposes and are currently based in the headquarters of the agencies under their authority. The amendment also requires both departments to re-purpose these available vehicles within seven days to replace those damaged by the Hurricane Sandy super-storm. Information provided to Congress shows that the Justice Department alone has over 3200 vehicles at the headquarters of various component agencies.
Both departments are also required to produce a report summarizing the vehicles that were identified and re-purposed and provide that report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations and the Judiciary. Until the report is provided to the congressional committees, none of the supplemental funding approved by Congress can be used to "purchase, repair, or replace" any vehicle controlled by agencies under the authority of either department.