|Recent House Votes|
|Sandy Recovery Supplemental Substitute Amendment – Vote Agreed to (327-91, 14 Not Voting)
After agreeing unanimously to the FEMA reforms, the House dove into the much thornier issue of providing actual money for Sandy victims. Conservatives on the GOP side have been arguing for months that any new spending for disaster aid should be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. This fact at least partly explains Speaker John Boehners decision to cancel anticipated action before the end of the 112th Congress. The several weeks delay allowed Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky and fellow appropriator Rodney Frelinghuysen of Sandy-affected New Jersey to come up with legislative language and procedure that could win enough support for passage. Their proposal divided the aid into two tranches, one covering only the most immediate needs, to be offered as a substitute amendment by Rogers, and the second to take care of longer-term needs for coastal New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Conservative Republican Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina was allowed to offer an amendment to the Rogers language that would have offset its costs about $17 billion with a 1.6 percent cut across the rest of the federal budget. Mulvaneys amendment was rejected though over two thirds of Republicans voting supported it and Rogerss $17 billion language then passed with strong bipartisan support.
Sandy Recovery Supplemental Long-term Recovery Aid – Vote Agreed to (228-192, 12 Not Voting)
The Frelinghuysen amendment in support of long-term recovery efforts proved much more controversial and more difficult to pass. It provided an additional $33 billion on top of the $17 billion in the Rogers amendment. In addition to the question of spending offsets, many Republicans questioned whether the type of mitigation efforts supported by the Frelinghuysen language belonged in a disaster aid bill. That type of spending, they argue, ought to be debated as part of the regular budgetary and appropriations process. Several amendments to Frelinghuysen were adopted, among them a rescission of funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Roll Call 16) and a restriction on the use of funds in the bill to acquire new federal land (Roll Call 21). Ultimately the Frelinghuysen language was adopted, but with the support of only 38 Republicans, mostly those from the affected states and other regions that have relied on federal support for disaster recovery in the past, such as the Gulf Coast.
Sandy Recovery Supplemental Final Passage – Vote Passed (241-180, 11 Not Voting)
The final package voted on the by House consisted of the Rogers and Frelinghuysen amendments and the disaster aid reforms. Ultimately the bill provides around $50.5 billion to the areas affected by the storm. Almost all of that total is designated emergency spending, meaning it falls outside of budgetary caps established for this fiscal year by the 2011 debt ceiling agreement. The final bill did pick up a few more Republican votes, but it would not have come close to passage without near-unanimous Democratic support. The issue of whether to offset disaster aid appears certain to resurface again. Rep. Mulvaney, while lamenting defeat of his amendment, said he was nonetheless “encouraged” to receive 162 votes.
Disaster Aid Reform – Vote Passed (403-0, 26 Not Voting)
The House engaged in a multiple-step process last week in order to finally pass the bulk of an assistance package for victims of Hurricane Sandy (after passing a bill two weeks ago increasing the National Flood Insurance Programs borrowing authority). The first step was passing this bill designed to introduce efficiencies to the Federal Emergency Management Agencys (FEMA) disaster recovery procedures. Among other things, the bill would streamline environmental reviews, reduce debris removal costs, and allow FEMA to make limited repairs to housing structures if that would be less costly than providing trailers. It would also direct FEMA to provide Congress with recommendations for reducing future recovery costs.
| Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 – H.R.152
The Senate is expected to take up the House-passed disaster aid package this week.
Republicans appear to have given up their strategy of using the debt ceiling to extract concessions from President Obama on spending and entitlements. That does not mean they plan simply to raise it, however. Their new gambit, expected to be on the floor Wednesday, would actually suspend the ceiling until May 19. Simultaneously, it would introduce a requirement that if either house of Congress does not pass a budget resolution by April 15 (as technically required by law), members of that house would not be paid until 1) a budget is passed or 2) the end of the 113th Congress, whichever occurs first.
January 23, 2013
Perlmutter Watch 1-22-13: Recent Votes
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