WASHINGTON -- The House version of the $51 billion disaster recovery package for superstorm Sandy drew 77 amendments by Friday's deadline, including several Republican proposals to drastically reduce the amount of money available for assistance.
Republican amendments include proposals to limit the total funding to only the amount that can be spent by October; to slash $16 billion for community development block grants; and to cut $200 million to improve weather forecasts.
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Democrats proposed to restore $45 million to $150 million for fisheries disasters that was cut from the House bill; to extend aid to houses of worship and housing co-ops; and to allow community development block grant funds to be used to pay the local share of costs for Army Corps of Engineers projects.
The sheer number of amendments poses a potential hurdle to passage of the bill if the House leadership and House Rules Committee allow them all to go to the floor for debate and a vote, according to aides.
The Rules Committee meets Monday afternoon on the bill and amendments. It then will send the package and amendments to the floor for debate and votes on Tuesday.
The package will include the underlying $17 billion aid bill, a $33 billion first amendment and other allowed amendments.
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) filed the amendment to extend aid to housing co-ops. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) submitted an amendment to clarify that money for fisheries disasters -- a much-criticized part of the aid package by fiscal conservative groups -- would be for only those damaged by Sandy.
Amendments to strip away most of the funding and to limit assistance to what can be spent in the next nine months were filed by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).
"The fact is of the $50 billion, only $4 billion is to be spent this year, and more than 90 percent will be for future years," he said. "We have a normal budget process to provide scrutiny for that kind of spending."