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A Few Conservatives Stand Against Pork Laden Disaster Relief Bill

Yesterday, the House passed a pork laden bill to spend $36.5 billion in aid to states and other areas that sustained damage from hurricanes Harvey and Maria.

The bill passed on a 353-69 vote — with resistance coming from a few stalwart conservatives, such as our friend Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-1), who questioned the cost and non-disaster relief aspects of the bill.

federal debtIn September, Rep. Gohmert and other conservatives supported the initial targeted relief package for those hit by Hurricane Harvey saying, “In the past, these ‘essential’ emergency spending bills have turned into pork laden spending and not actually true capital for the Disaster Relief Fund. I'm pleased this time unlike the Hurricane Sandy vote, which had about half the spending in the bill going for non-Sandy or non-emergency spending, this bill is just intended to keep FEMA solvent and address the emergency harm. That is an easy vote to take.”

Yesterday’s bill included $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund and $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt. It also provided $1.27 billion for food assistance for Puerto Rico.

“It is only a matter of time before the U.S. faces the next catastrophe. But for some reason, the government does not budget with this in mind,” Rep. Mark Walker, a North Carolina Republican, wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial.

Rep. David Schweikert, an Arizona Republican member of the House Freedom Caucus, mirrored much of his colleague’s comments, telling reporters that bailing out the Flood Insurance program without reforms amounted to throwing good money after bad.

“Emergency is emergency, but there are programs we’re going to have to deal [with], bite the bullet, and I think flood insurance is one of them, where you also have a moral hazard in its current design,” he said according to Chris White of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

White reported that the Trump administration has provided Puerto Rico with tens of millions of dollars in September to help the small American territory rebuild crucial infrastructure that Hurricane Maria destroyed.

The Federal Highway Administration will immediately begin disbursing $40 million in emergency relief funds to Puerto Rico to help rebuild roads and bridges. Officials made the request early Thursday morning, and White reported it was immediately approved.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (TX-5) who has proposed a series of changes to the federal flood program, said he opposed the bill because it didn't take up any of those provisions.

Rep. Joe Barton, who co-chairs the congressional Harvey task force, has been an outspoken critic of the troubled flood insurance program, along with Representatives Hensarling and Roger Williams.

"The NFIP urgently needs an overhaul," Congressman Williams said. "Until the House passes legislation that reforms this fractured program, I cannot support a $16 billion bailout that further kicks this problem to the future."

The flood insurance program reached its $30.4 billion borrowing authority after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, leaving it unable to pay many flood claims. The House relief bill would cancel $16 billion of that debt.

According to DallasNews.com, the House measure ignored multibillion-dollar requests from both Texas and Florida, it would direct $18.7 billion to FEMA’s disaster relief fund and includes a $4.9 billion loan to help cash-strapped Puerto Rico after a devastating a series of hurricanes. The House bill would also spend about $577 million to help states battling wildfires.

Disaster recovery bills have a long history of becoming “Christmas Trees” with spending totally unrelated to disaster recovery appended to them on theory that no Member of Congress wishes to appear to be so heartless as to vote against a disaster relief bill.

We applaud the 69 members of the House who had the spine to stand against another bill that was not targeted to those individuals, localities and states that actually suffered disaster-related losses, and that merely throws good money after bad subsidizing flood insurance for homes and businesses built in areas that can never be made safe from flooding, no matter how much money their fellow taxpayers invest.

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What Pork?

I read this article. Where's the pork? It's not listed.

I'm confused.

Flood Insurance

I believe its mainly the Flood Insurance bailout which helps people who can afford to live on the beach at the expense of everyone else. I agree the article could have been clearer and at least mentioned some of the other pork, if any.
"Forgiving" $16 billion in debt sounds nice but it really means that what A owed will now be paid by B and C without A being required to change his ways so it's inevitable that A will soon be in great debt again.