Yesterday, I voted for H.R. 152, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act. This emergency spending will provide money to repair damage in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut from Hurricane Sandy. I voted to strip out $173.8 million in non-emergency spending from the bill, and I voted to require a state match for federal grants so that local communities are not funding projects solely with federal dollars.
I strongly opposed the $60.4 billion bill that the Senate passed late last year because it contained projects completely unrelated to Hurricane Sandy. The House-passed bill that I supported is specifically limited to compensating victims of Hurricane Sandy and strengthening weather monitoring and forecasting. The one piece of the House bill that causes me concern is $16 billion for disaster relief through the Department of Housing and Urban Development for a declared major disaster in 2011, 2012, and 2013. I intend to vigorously pursue strong oversight for the use of these funds through the Appropriations Committee to ensure that it is narrowly targeted to compensate victims of hurricanes in those years as the author intended.
I would have preferred House leadership offset every dollar of this emergency spending with specified cuts in other programs, but they did not give us this option in the series of votes. National disasters require prompt national response and the people of the Northeast have waited longer for federal aid than any other hurricane victims. A day will come when the Gulf Coast will be hit by another bad storm, and we will be in the same boat as the people of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. I will continue to work hard to cut spending everywhere I can and to ensure this money is only spent on hurricane disaster relief.