GOP amendments seek spending cuts to pay for Sandy aid

Long Beach homes damaged by superstorm Sandy. (Jan.

Long Beach homes damaged by superstorm Sandy. (Jan. 4, 2013) (Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa)

WASHINGTON -- Republican lawmakers filed two amendments Thursday that would require offsetting spending cuts to pay for $17 billion in a $50-billion legislative package for superstorm Sandy recovery that the House will consider.

Those and two other amendments proposed Thursday indicate fiscal conservatives in the House will put up a challenge next week to the assistance package, which includes a $17-billion bill and an accompanying $33-billion amendment.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) sponsored the two amendments, each of which offers a different way to tap existing federal money to fund the $17-billion bill for recovery in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

One would require a 1.63 percent across-the-board cut in discretionary spending, according to a copy of the amendment the House Rules Committee posted on its website. The other would end transit subsidies for federal employees, eliminate cash subsidies to farmers and prohibit new obligations from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, created to aid the financial industry.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) has argued against requiring spending offsets to pay for the recovery package, saying they weren't necessary for past emergency disaster aid.

Another amendment by Mulvaney would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to audit all spending under the recovery package. Mulvaney could not be reached for comment. In another amendment, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) proposed to strip from the $33-billion amendment $1 million for the Legal Services Corp. to help low-income Sandy victims.

The House Rules Committee is accepting amendments to the Sandy package until 4 p.m. Friday and will hold a hearing on them at 5 p.m. Monday.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has promised a vote on the aid package on Tuesday.

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