The ‘Sandy Relief’ Bill Passes…
…we use scare quotes around “Sandy Relief” because it’s a $50.7 billion bill with $17 billion in actual Sandy relief. Two thirds of the money in that bill has diddly poo to do with Hurricane Sandy.
There were 179 Republican votes against the bill, among them three Louisiana Republicans – Bill Cassidy, John Fleming and Steve Scalise. Fleming managed to get an amendment passed that knocked out $9.8 million for spending on repairs to what’s essentially a private island…
“Today the House took a small step in the direction of common sense. My amendment will cut a slice of non-emergency pork from the Sandy Bill, by stopping the Fish and Wildlife service from spending nearly $10 million for repair projects and beach restoration on uninhabited islands. The general public has no access to these islands without the permission of a school in Connecticut that uses them for university conservation classes. There is no emergency facing these islands and the $10 million that would have been spent on them would add to our national debt while providing no relief for victims of Sandy.”
Fleming deserves thanks for getting that $10 million out of the bill. Unfortunately, he offered three more amendments he couldn’t get to the floor. One would have cut $4.2 million that would be used to install water control structures on islands in North Carolina not damaged by Sandy, another would have cut $3 million that would be used to relocate undamaged roads in unspecified locations and a third would have cut $1.5 million that would go to the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. The bill has 150 pages of crap like that in it, totalling $50.7 billion in money we don’t have being shoveled out the door.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), who also voted against the “Sandy Relief” bill, offered an amendment which would have forced a dollar-for-dollar offset of all the spending in the bill by finding savings elsewhere in the $3.5 trillion federal budget. That amendment lost by about 80 votes.
Two Louisiana Republicans – Charles Boustany and Rodney Alexander – voted with Speaker John Boehner’s GOP leadership team and 192 Democrats in passing the bill. Boustany posted this on his Facebook page after voting against the fiscal cliff deal Jan. 2…
The federal government doesn’t need additional revenue, it needs fiscal restraint. Americans want more spending cuts. Last night’s fiscal cliff vote adds $4 trillion in new deficit spending. I voted against this legislation because it raises income tax rates while completely ignoring the federal government’s desperate need to cut spending. Enough with the Washington gimmicks, we need real reform. I didn’t see it in last night’s bill.
Fiscal restraint, in Boustany’s terms, is defined by spending twice as much on items unrelated to the main subject matter of a bill than the actual subject matter of the bill. Or whatever Boehner tells him to vote for, perhaps.
The Sandy bill is significant in this respect – Boehner had vowed, while he was attempting to head off a Republican revolt to deny him another term as Speaker, that he wouldn’t go against a majority of Republican House members in pushing a bill.
But he did, just tonight. There were 49 Republican “Yes” votes, 179 Republican “No” votes. Boehner has now sold out the GOP caucus which re-elected him. His promise didn’t even last two weeks.
And because of that, you can have zero faith that Boehner will hold the line against Obama on either the debt limit or the continuing resolution which passes for a budget. It’s over; Boehner has fulfilled the prophecy Jeff Landry made on his way out of Congress that he would lead the GOP to the loss of the House thanks to poor, uninspired leadership. Going against the majority of your membership to force through a bill with 67 percent of its spending being unrelated to the subject at hand is poor, uninspired leadership by any reasonable definition.
As an aside, if you’re in Louisiana, you can wind your watch by the prediction that the Times-Picayune’s Jarvis DeBerry, who has used the Sandy relief issue to take two cheap shots at those Republicans who actually care about restricting spending to what is being voted on in the past week, will gleefully hammer away at them a third time – regardless of the $34 billion in pork the bill contains.
Because as he said this morning…
Mulvaney said the $51 billion bill is loaded with pork. It would be hard to imagine a bill of that size that isn’t. Lawmakers routinely seize opportunities such as this to fund projects that they’d never be able to fund individually.
So it really doesn’t matter that the politicians in Washington, who have put the country at risk of another downgrade by the bond rating agencies through unrestrained profligate spending, continue speeding down the road to Greece. That’s over DeBerry’s head. All he knows is Republicans are mean and they voted against Sandy relief.
This is an editorial columnist at what used to be a major newspaper.
But it’s worse than that. Because not only is the public polluted with imbecilic opinions in major “flyover country” papers like those DeBerry inflicts on the Picayune’s readers every day, the output is even worse in Washington. We ran across this piece at The Hill by John Feehery, a Republican “strategist” and former longtime House leadership staffer, entitled “Time To Purge.” It’s about how Boehner should kick the 12 Republican members who voted against his re-election as speakership out of the party.
Boehner should invite the 12 who voted against him to leave the GOP. He should bar them from attending any Republican Conference meetings. He should strip them of all committee assignments. He should instruct the NRCC to view those seats to be held in the hands of non-Republicans, and find candidates to run for them. He should instruct Republican allies on the outside — business groups, corporate PACS, trade associations, the Chamber of Commerce — to cease to give these members any campaign contributions. The Speaker should instruct the Appropriations Committee to deny all spending requests made by any of these 12 members. These members shouldn’t be allowed to travel on any congressional delegation trips.
They aren’t Republicans. They shouldn’t be allowed to masquerade as Republicans.
The fact of the matter is that the 12 who voted against Boehner are not likely to vote for anything that most Republicans want to get done. They probably won’t vote for any rules to govern debate. They can’t be counted on to vote for any appropriations bills. They won’t vote to extend the debt ceiling. They won’t take any tough votes ever. Instead, they will pontificate about how fiscally responsible they are, just as they make it easier for House Democrats to play a bigger role in all legislative achievements. The fact is that on must-pass legislation, Boehner, Cantor and McCarthy have to get the votes from somewhere. When the hard-liners balk, the leadership is forced to turn to the minority.
The 12 who voted against Boehner can start their own party. They can call themselves the Know-Nothings or the Tea Party or the Radical Republicans or whatever they want. What they can’t call themselves is Republican, because if Boehner handles this right, they won’t be part of the Republican Conference anymore.
That’s the Beltway Establishment GOP mindset which prevails at present, and which apparently includes Boustany and Alexander. And which leads to $34 billion in pork making its way through a GOP-dominated House, apparently because Chris Christie, fresh off doing damage to his party’s presidential nominee by an embrace of Obama just before the election, threw a temper tantrum and demanded an immediate cash shower regardless of the strings attached. If you can’t see the Beltway crowd lining up behind Christie as their next John McCain or Mitt Romney tonight, your eyes are not open.
It’s clear that the top priority of the President and his Democrat allies is the destruction of the Republican Party as a viable national operation. But Obama couldn’t have hoped for more cooperation by the GOP leadership in that project than he is getting at present.