It's been 66 days since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast, causing major damage in New York and New Jersey. The storm was so powerful, it is in the running to become the most expensive storm for taxpayers on record. Historically, Congress has passed hurricane relief bills in the immediate aftermath of storm damage, but Sandy is a different story. Why? Congress wrote up Hurricane Sandy Relief legislation and then Harry Reid's Senate loaded it with pork. What's in it? Many things that hardly count as relief for victims.
The pork-barrel feast includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments. It also includes a whopping $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC.
An eye-popping $13 billion would go to “mitigation” projects to prepare for future storms.
Other big-ticket items in the bill include $207 million for the VA Manhattan Medical Center; $41 million to fix up eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and $1.1 million to repair national cemeteries.
Budget watchdogs have dubbed the 94-page emergency-spending bill “Sandy Scam.”
$58.8 million for forest restoration on private land.
$197 million “to… protect coastal ecosystems and habitat impacted by Hurricane Sandy.”
$10.78 billion for public transportation, most of which is allocated to future construction and improvements, not disaster relief.
$17 billion for wasteful Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a program that has become notorious for its use as a backdoor earmark program.
Not surprisingly, the media is jumping all over Speaker Boehner's pulling of the non-relief relief bill as "leaving Sandy victims out in the cold" while failing to lay any of the blame on Reid's Senate for not sending the House a clean bill. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did the same today during a press conference about the relief package. Christie called the failure of Boehner to bring the bill to the floor for a vote a result of "toxic politics," berated the House Majority for the delay and said the legislation wasn't full of pork. Christie called on Congress to "do their job," while failing to acknowledge part of the job is preventing misuse of taxpayer funds for pet projects not related to legislation at hand.