WASHINGTON, D.C. — 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.
Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and Congressman Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., voted for the bill.
Budget hawks complained the added spending included projects unrelated to he storm. They also argued the emergency funding should be offset by cuts in other programs.
An amendment by Congressman 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.
Congressman 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.
Herrera Beutler and Kilmer voted against it.
The House voted 327-91 for the basic $17 billion aid package. Herrera Beutler and Kilmer voted for it.
Subsequently, an amendment to expand the recovery package from $17 billion to $50.5 billion passed 228-192.
Kilmer voted for it while Herrera Beutler voted against it.