Congressman Calls for $12 Billion in New Debt to Pay FEMA for Hurricane Sandy

Matt Cover | October 31, 2012 | 12:24pm EDT
Font Size

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.) (AP)

( – Representative Chaka Fattah (D-Penn.) is planning to introduce a bill to provide an additional $12 billion in funding to FEMA to help the agency deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Fattah says the money should be provided without any offsets, meaning that the government will have to add the total to its already $16-trillion-plus debt.

Fattah plans to introduce the bill when the House of Representatives convenes for a pro-forma session on Friday, although it is not clear he will have a chance to do so because such pro-forma sessions typically last only mere minutes.

Regardless, Rep. Fattah said that the money should not have to be offset by spending cuts or new revenue, adding that the government has always provided emergency funding for natural disasters.

“The American people deserve, and insist on, the kind of first-rate recovery response that FEMA can provide,” Fattah said in a statement. “But we cannot do it on the cheap. Congress must step up and provide the federal resources this emergency requires.”

Any additional funding would violate the spending caps Congress put in place in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011. However, the BCA allows for funding above the caps in cases of national emergencies of natural disasters.

If the funding is approved without offsets, it would almost certainly have to be borrowed because the government currently runs a large cash deficit, meaning that the $12 billion Fattah proposes would have to be added to the national debt of $16 trillion.

“We have always provided necessary funding for emergencies without cutting the budget elsewhere, and the pay-go rules of the House provide for these exceptions. Clearly, with major population and commercial centers along the East Coast and in the Midwest hobbled, this is such an emergency,” Fattah said.

mrc merch