Republican senators like Arizona’s Jon Kyl and Alabama’s Jeff Sessions have objected to the large Hurricane Sandy relief package. President Obama has requested $60.4 billion in new spending, and they’re not convinced it needs to be quite so expensive. Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn also concerns, telling CNN today that “This is a stimulus bill, not an emergency bill,” and saying that nearly two thirds of the funding allocated by the bill wouldn’t actually get spent prior to 2015.
Well, turns out some of the money won’t even get spent until after 2015. In an e-mail to reporters today, Taxpayers for Common Sense vice president Steve Ellis writes that some of the money isn’t marked for use until fiscal year 2019:
As we go through the bill, there’s a lot in here that isn’t emergency. For instance, 25 percent of the $10.8 billion in Federal Transit Administration funding won’t be spent until after fiscal year 2019! The Senate took the President’s request for $32 million for Amtrak and added a zero plus some more to come up with $336 million. Much of this is for a long-term project that has been in the works for year and has nothing to do with Sandy. There’s also policy provision that could have long consequences like the blanket, unlimited project authorization authority given to the Corps. This is an agency with a $60-70 billion backlog.
It’s one thing to argue money for Sandy victims needs to be authorized ASAP. But the Democrats are trying to cram in plenty of other goodies — ones that could be decided on after a more prolonged debate — in this bill.