By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Representative Mo Brooks (R) from Huntsville issued a written statement after he appeared before the House Rules Committee to present an amendment to H.R. 152, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act. H.R. 152 would fund approximately $21 billion in Hurricane Sandy relief costs. The Brooks Amendment would have paid for the Hurricane Sandy Aid by taking the money away from foreign aid that the State Department gives out to prop up, assist, or influence foreign governments. The House Rules Committee rejected Brooks amendment along with 80 other proposed amendments to the bill.
Congressman Brooks said in his remarks to the Committee, “[The Amendment provides] a source for funding for the monies that would be spent for disaster relief caused by Hurricane Sandy. What it does is cut into foreign aid with the exception of Israel, Afghanistan, or Pakistan, and shift those monies that are being spent on foreign aid to instead be spent on American aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.”
Rep. Brooks said, “To me, it’s an easy choice between helping Americans who need aid, and helping foreigners who desire aid. These are American tax dollars being spent, and I would submit that it’s best to spend those American tax dollars helping Americans that are in need.”
The Huntsville Congressman said, ““The reason that I am submitting a pay-for [amendment] is quite simply because of the precarious condition that the United States government sees itself; financially we’re on a path to nowhere.”
Brooks pointed out that the $220 billion a year that the U.S. is currently spending to service it’s $16 trillion national debt is more than ten times the Sandy aid package.
Rep. Brooks said that what the U.S. spends servicing its current debt, “Is three times all of the relief sought by Hurricane Sandy victims. It’s more than four times what is being spent annually by the federal government on certain transportation infrastructure needs. If you want to talk about programs that are no longer available because of that money being spent on servicing our debt, think in terms of 12 or 13 NASAs. That’s the equivalent of how much money we are now spending just servicing debt, not paying it down. And so the question becomes: are we going to be financially responsible as we pay for disasters as they occur?”
Rep. Brooks proposal was to fund the disaster by stripping the money from the foreign aid budget. Brooks said, “To kind of put it into perspective, here is an example of the choice. We could spend $531 million dollars on Tanzania, $368 million on Zambia, $652 million on Kenya, $625 million on Nigeria, or perhaps as much as $2 billion in New Castle County, Sussex County, Kent County, and other damaged areas in Delaware. We could spend $180 million in Indonesia, $142 million for the Philippines, $107 million in Vietnam, $85 million in the Republic of Georgia, or we could shift those kinds of sums to Atlantic City, Hoboken, and other places in New Jersey.” Rep. Brooks exempted aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan because of the active combat U.S. armed forces are still involved in there. He also exempted aid to Israel because of the “heightened risk of conflict if Israel should be weakened… or if cutting them off should appear to be a move by the United States to distance ourselves from supporting Israel, which in turn would embolden Israel’s foes.”
President Barack H. Obama and Senate Democrats appear to want to spend another year spending a $trillion more than the federal government takes in. House Democrats recently introduced a measure which would eliminate the debt ceiling allowing the President to keep spending money indefinitely without coming back to Congress and asking for it to raise the debt ceiling. While that bill has little chance of passing, in coming weeks the Congress will have to vote to increase the debt ceiling. Many Republicans hope to extract concessions from the President on decreasing runaway federal spending……concessions that they were unable to get in the recent fiscal cliff crisis.