S.A. Miller and Gerry Shields at the New York Post report:
President Obama’s $60.4 billion request for Hurricane Sandy relief has morphed into a huge Christmas stocking of goodies for federal agencies and even the state of Alaska, The Post has learned.
The pork-barrel feast includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments. It also includes a whopping $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC.
An eye-popping $13 billion would go to “mitigation” projects to prepare for future storms.
Other big-ticket items in the bill include $207 million for the VA Manhattan Medical Center; $41 million to fix up eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and $1.1 million to repair national cemeteries.
Budget watchdogs have dubbed the 94-page emergency-spending bill “Sandy Scam.”
Matt Mayer of the conservative Heritage Foundation slammed the request as an “enormous Christmas gift worth of stuff.”
“The funding here should be focused on helping the community and the people, not replacing federal assets or federal items,” he said.
Republican lawmakers say the lack of details and justifications for the spending will delay approval until after Christmas, while they analyze and document what spending is “appropriate.”
“To throw out a number this large without in-depth analysis and formal request detailing the basis for it I think is premature and I wouldn’t support that,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).
Gov. Cuomo yesterday warned Congress not to hold up the money.
“There is no Plan B,” declared Cuomo at a press conference at the governor’s office in Manhattan, where he was joined by business and union leaders.
Mayor Bloomberg, however, called for careful scrutiny of the federal spending.
“You would think they’d want to ask questions before they give away the public’s money,” the mayor said on his radio program.