The Corner

Sandy Relief Bill Includes $150 Million for Alaska, Gulf of Mexico, New England

Alaska, of Bridge to Nowhere fame, is set to again get a sizeable chunk of federal dough.  Hurricane Sandy may have not affected Alaska at all, but Democrat senator Mark Begich of Alaska is requesting “$150 million for fisheries that have faced recent disasters in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as New England” in order “to address the marine debris washing up on the coasts of Western states from the Japan earthquake of March 2011,” reports Roll Call.

Furthermore, according to a letter from Jeffrey Zients, deputy director for management, the $60.4 billion bill includes almost $13 billion in funding for projects that will prevent future flood damage, not repair projects currently damaged.

And if that’s not bad enough, it turns almost none of the money allocated in this bill that is being sped up to allow quick relief for Sandy victims will be spent in the near future. According to the Congressional Budget Office, only 15 percent would be spent this year. An additional 21 percent of the funds would be spent in the next fiscal year. That means 64 percent of the funding won’t be used until fiscal year 2015 or later. 

It’s no wonder that some congressional aides have begun referring to he bill’s add-ons as the “Sandy scam.” 

UPDATE: Republican Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski also supports the funding, according to a press release from her website. 

UPDATE II: Statement from Senator Begich:

These are two very real and very serious disasters that Alaskans are facing. The first being the salmon disaster which was declared a disaster by the federal government this past September – Alaskans are still waiting for relief after the devastating impact on fisheries. After Japan’s generous gift of $5 million, the U.S. government needs to step up to the plate as tsunami debris poses serious navigational hazards and risks to coastal communities. Sandy remains the priority in this bill, but given that many of the dollars allocated for debris will go to charting and mapping it, this bill is a more than appropriate vehicle to bring up these disasters which have severely impacted Alaska’s communities.

This post has been modified.

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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