WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator John Boozman issued the following statement on the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief funding legislation.
“I support providing emergency relief to Americans whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, just as we do when disasters strike in Arkansas. Congress has been debating how to provide adequate resources for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund. First, Congress passed an initial $9.7 billion aid package, unanimously through the Senate, without any controversy. This covers urgent needs.”
“Long-term spending on the recovery can and should be paid-for with offsets. Since 1990, more than half of all emergency supplemental spending bills have contained offsets to pay for the emergency spending. While the government continues to borrow billions of dollars each day, we have to be more cautious with taxpayer dollars.
"Furthermore, the bill includes non-emergency spending that could be debated in the regular FY2013 and FY2014 appropriations process. In fact only 30 percent of the $50.5 billion "emergency" spending bill would be spent over the next 20 months. Non-emergency funding needs to follow regular process. For example, $100 million for Head Start and $23 million for tree planting are not urgent needs related to Hurricane Sandy. While this practice may have been acceptable during more prosperous times, we have to be more responsible during these fiscally unsustainable times. It's important to insist that we find offsets for new disaster spending.
“Those of us insisting on fiscal responsibility are not opposed to providing aid, which is why the urgent funding passed without controversy and all needed assistance should be provided. However, if it can be handled through the regular process and paid-for, it should be.”