Not everything in the disaster relief bill, aimed at helping victims of this fall's Superstorm Sandy, relates to the storm.
"The upshot is that there are billions of dollars in spending that is not Sandy related," accorind to a report released Thursday by Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group.
An amendment to the House bill, due to be considered next week, "also strips out any local or state cost share for billions of dollars of Corps of Engineers projects – projects that were cost-shared in any previous disaster response."
Here are some highlights, as reported by the group:
- $25 million to improve weather forecasting and hurricane intensity forecasting.
- $1 million for DEA to repair or replace 15 vehicles as well as some technology (BATF gets $230K to replace three vehicles and some furniture). For the record, the Department of Justice has over 40,000 vehicles – this should come out of agency budgets, not emergency.
- $5.37 million for Army O&M to repair damaged facilities. This represents 0.01 percent of the Army’s FY12 regular O&M account (no war spending). I think a few sergeants could rummage through the couch cushions to come up with $5.37 million instead of emergency funding.
- $3.461 billion for Corps construction projects, $2.9 billion of which is for the Sandy region, and sand pumping on beaches would be at full federal expense. Normal cost-share (even in disasters like Katrina) is 65 percent federal, 35 percent local or state.
- $10 million for FBI salaries and expenses (this is more than double the $4 million requested by the President and in the previous Senate bill)
- $2 million for Smithsonian roof repairs
- $118 million for AMTRAK - $86 million more than the President requested and will be used on non-Sandy related Northeast Corridor upgrades
- $2 billion for Federal Highway Administration to spend on roads across the country (obviously not Sandy related)
- $16 billion Community Development Fund that would go to not only Sandy states but to any major disaster declarations of 2011, 2012, and 2013 (OH had the latest major disaster declaration on January 3, 2013 – for Sandy!). That encompasses 47 states and Puerto Rico. Want to know who’s left out? Sorry Arizona, Michigan, and South Carolina, thanks for playing. Maybe you’ll have a disaster later this year.