The Brooklyn Bridge during Hurricane Sandy.

Last week, President Obama asked Congress for $60.4 billion for Hurricane Sandy response and recovery. But where is that money actually going?

According to Heritage Foundation research, only $12 billion of the President’s request, or just 21 percent of the total, will be used directed to Hurricane Sandy response and recovery. The rest is going to fund unrelated projects.

Heritage’s Jessica Zuckerman explains where the money is actually going:

Roughly $28 billion of the request is marked for future disaster-mitigation projects on the East Coast, including $3.2 million for erosion control projects and $15 billion for Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants. As Heritage’s Matt Mayer explains, “[S]etting aside whether these projects have merit, a supplemental spending request to deal with a current crisis is not the appropriate vehicle to propose new spending projects.”

Among other components of the request, just to name a few:

  • $3 billion for federal departments and agencies to repair or replace federal assets, including $2 million for roof repairs at the Smithsonian;
  • $200 million for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to be used freely at the discretion of the Secretary; and
  • $6 million to purchase food for food banks, a need that could be better met by local companies and the nonprofit sector.

Remove unnecessary items from the Administration’s request, and you’re left with a request of $12.8 billion in supplemental funds.

Where will this money come from? Not from FEMA. Its drained resources total about $5 billion after it doled out funds for an astounding 353 federal disaster declarations in less than two years. When federal funds, instead of state and local funds, are spent on routine, localized emergencies, there’s nothing left when a catastrophe of Sandy’s magnitude hits.

Heritage expert Matt Mayer explains that Congress should focus its disaster spending on actual disasters, not new roofs for museums in Washington:

[T]oo much of the Obama Administration’s supplemental request for Hurricane Sandy includes items best left for its upcoming budget.… Because of the federal government’s dire fiscal condition, underscored by the current fiscal cliff negotiations, spending reductions should offset any additional spending.

Do you think lawmakers should use disaster relief as an excuse to fund their pet projects?

Comments (62)

Elsie E Connelly - December 18, 2012

Hell no! The congress and the senate are nothing but a bunch of carpet baggers of the 1st degree. I think all of the government Obama on down should be tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail.

seafms - December 18, 2012

This is typical Washington slight of hand.

ed j Cipriano - December 18, 2012

i do not believe our government should be using any money that is approved for Sandy disater relief,for government pet projects .I Believe AIG just payed back money to the government for the bail out.Where is that money or is it money that is guaranteed to pay the debt down.We do not need them receiving any free debt money to be used for any thing their little heart desires to expand the growth of government. Besides if the victims of Sandy do no get 80% of the money .Where will the financial help come from? The States raising Taxes ?

Elizabeth Williams - December 18, 2012

NO. I am so tired of bills being passed that have all these added amendments and/or pork attached to them.

john uhrhammer - December 18, 2012

NO! NO! NO! (not ho ho ho) Why do legislators insist on being dishonest? All these “pet” (pork) projects are a big cause of our national debt! I have 2 (two) suggestions to cut the federal spending: 1) fire 40% of all non-military employees. and 2) do not pay any congressperson’s salary until they accomplish a balanced budget. They seem to have no interest in “the best for the USA” but only their own pocket.

Robert McDougall - December 18, 2012

This “Sandy Relief” is total BS! It’s the perfect example of why Congress can’t get its act together and why our country is headed to 2nd Greece status.

curtis smith - December 18, 2012

just who has enough guts to pit a stop to this over-reaching of power and stupid requests—why do the American people have to put up with this rampant waste of taxpayer money HHs doesn’t need 60 billion to spend at the descretion of Sebilus -what utter nonsense how stupid do they think the public is oh wait
they re-elected Obama

William Dupuy - December 18, 2012

Funding pet projects is in the same boat as foregin Aid. Even when the money should not be used for those items, our government is like the shopper addict who cannot resist an item on sale, even if they have no need or benefit from that product. When you spend other peoples money, facts show you lose the ability to reason, in why you should stop. Ask Madoff why he kept spending and lying.

Malcolm Brewer - December 18, 2012

No I don’t think the lawmakers have a right to authorize funding for other projects while saying that all this money is to help the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. I have a business and if I went to the bank and borrowed money for a project and spent the money on something else I am sure that they would either pull the loan, send me to jail or both. What they are doing is wrong and I would like to send them a message to that , the thing is they could care less and I believe that is on both sides of the isle. They say anything and promises everything to get elected and that they line there own pockets and to hell with the country. Some how we need to get the government back on track and get read of the crooked politician. What happened to the news media we still have freedom of speech yet they are saying nothing and taking word for word what they are being feed. Its almost like they are drug-ed and cant think for themselves. I don’t have a lot of time left here on earth but my kids and grand-kids do and i am very concerned what it will be for them down the road. God Bless us

John Buonocore - December 18, 2012

When will it stop. Pressure should be brought to bear on the Speaker. If he is allowing the administration to get all that it wants, he should be removed and sent home.
He controlls the purse strings and if he gives in to the administration demand to “take full of controll of the debt ceiling , he should be impeached as this is against out Constitution.
J. Buonocore

Eileen Cooke - December 18, 2012

I do not think lawmakers should put their pet projects as an addendum to a bill requesting relief for victims of Sandy. I am so tired of Congress being able to add pork on bills before them. It should be, “This is the bill, now vote on it.” If they want their pork, it should be a separate bill. One bill, one vote, NO ADD-ONS!

Rick Womble - December 18, 2012

I am tired of pork being attached and hidden in bills advertised to be spent for one particular item by lying & corrupt politicians at both the state and federal levels. I was in a local governing body and we would never have attempted such an act; of course, our total annual budget was only around $300 million, so it was harder to hide corruption and pork in.

Jean Smusz - December 18, 2012

No, I do not think that “pet” projects should factor into this storm relief payment. Politicians – yuk – always trying to “muddy” the water!

David - December 18, 2012

Hell no!!!! Pork is the problem on the spending side of the budget.

Paul Ackerman - December 18, 2012

No absolutely not a penny for any of these other add-ons! This exemplifies the problem with Congress in general,and the Democratic Party specifically,there always seems to be a way in which the expenditure of public funds (albeit borrowed from China most likely) are diverted, from the supposed needy beneficiary, to some other amorphous federal agency or projects.
Every Republican should vote against this fraud!

MaryvotesR - December 18, 2012

Of course Congress should not hide their pork projects within the disaster relief, but this way they look like they are giving lots more to the victims. Actually, if people are stupid enough to live whwere there is a danger of hurricanes, we should not be responsible for their lifestyle choice.

James A. Glasscock - December 18, 2012

The object of this game is similar to a pea and shell con game. Fool the participants and grab the money and give it to friends, loyal friends, and for political payoffs and favors.
As for the victims of the hurricane, they are thrown under
the proverbial bus with ease.
I recall the photo opt of the President hugging the lady, a storm victim, and she complained later he has not helped a bit and promises to made but not intended to keep.
Unfortunately, for America, we have a insincere President and a craven Congress, especially the Democrats and their ilk who think the American people are saps. I must agree that those who voted for him are

Richard Burd - December 18, 2012

I’m sorry people are suffering from Sandy, but those who live on the shore should do so at their own risk. I
wouldn’t voluntarily spend my tax dollars to subsidize their flood insurance. Nature always wins.

Charles Davis - December 18, 2012

The Republican House should provide the 12B, not one penny more, and the appropriation should specifically prevent it from being spent on anything other than Sandy recovery.

Jack - December 18, 2012

There they go again!!

Thomas R. Broussard - December 18, 2012

Please stop the pork barrel spending NOW ! It is time for the revolution to begin Washington does not feel our pain. If I earned it, it’s mine. Taxes should only be paid once. No Inheritance tax and no capital gains taxes. Reform welfare and handouts now. The country’s broke and Washington did it to our once great nation. Whats wrong with the people WAKE UP AMERICA!

Jeanne Blake - December 18, 2012

NO, NO, NO, Thank you very much!

Michael Cox - December 18, 2012

While I can agree with some disaster-mitigating measures being funded, they should be considered separately, and on their own merits. Anything not totally related to Sandy-Relief should not be a part of this package. Pork stinks in this case.

Douglas L Perle - December 18, 2012

To use the tax dollars to fund a relief project is a good thing. However, when it includes “slush funds” for pet projects that is just wrong. This is a great example of the unconscionable legislative behavior and total disregard of the real reason they were placed in office.

Joann Reitenour - December 18, 2012

No! Use these funds only for Hurrican Sandy repairs.

t-mom - December 18, 2012

No, it should not! and I am writing my two Senators! Thank you for giving us such detailed information. Sick of this!

Laura Beasley - December 18, 2012

Few words are needed. HOW TO STOP THIS LUNACY!

Barbara Kelly - December 18, 2012

Thought we were doing away with pork! This is a disgrace.

BETTY MUNSON - December 18, 2012

Never let a good crisis go to waste.

Tacking on these kinds of subterranean items is what is running us off the rails. You want to vote for disaster relief? You have to vote for discretionary funds to be used heaven-knows-how and a museum roof.

Eddie Lee - December 18, 2012

Disaster relief should ONLY be used for current needs
and certainly not for the PORK projects they are
asking for.

Dennis Vaillancourt - December 18, 2012

Absolutely not!!!

John Smith - December 19, 2012

This is the reason why such funding should only be provided by charities and other non-profits.

They should keep taxes out of it; taxes tend to be used for just ‘slush funds’ these days.

Clifton Eldred - December 19, 2012

I think it is abusive and fraudulent to label bills with a title for the public’s consumption and then spend it for other uses than what’s stated in the title of the bill. I believe there should be a law that there be only one item in each bill. Keep the bills honest, simple and straight forward. This would help force honesty in the ranks of our public servants.
12 billion for Sandy out of 60.4 billion is theft and fraudulent.
And, no rewriting after presenting a bill to the public.

David Lisignoli - December 19, 2012

Stop throwing money around like we have any. Request only those funds needed for immediate purposes. This plan is how we got in the terrible mess were in. Hey Mr. President is this how you handle your personal finances????? I doubt it.

One sick and tired retiree.

Barbara Gruesbeck - December 19, 2012

What everyone else said!

Joann Reitenour - December 19, 2012

I, also do not want funds used so wongly!! JR

Robert L. Huebner - December 19, 2012

It’s about time we boot (with a Texas Boot) every one in congress and the senate. They are nothing but a self-serving bunch of idiots who care less about the people they represent.

Dougral - December 19, 2012

All the ancillary spending should be yanked out. Unfortunately the bill will probably pass since neither party has much concern for the ruinous rise in our debt. They’ll continue to spend because it isn’t their money.

Mel Folk - December 19, 2012

It is not enough to tell us the our leaders are wasting money like there is no to,tomorrow. You have to name names so we may confront these idiots who are so out of touch that they must be living on some other planet. The USA is over $16Trillion in debt. What don’t they get about that fact. We need to confront and embarrass these idiots.

Margaret Barnes - December 19, 2012

Although it makes good sense to DO the mitigation activities, this money was supposedly voted for a helping hand to those who have been overwhelmed by the storm Sandy; and the other items have no possible purpose in that aim.

Harvey Keiser - December 19, 2012

How can the men and women we trust to run our government be so dishonest? Evil is real in this world.

Lorraine Root - December 19, 2012

No, but what do we expect. The country sent the same morons back to Washington. Tlhis won’t change until we replace each and every one of them with fiscally responsible people.

Lynn Hawthorne - December 19, 2012

No, it is unconscionable and deceptive.

Carolyn Ericson - December 19, 2012

I agree with Ed……………………………………………………..>

Orval Mosby - December 19, 2012

It is sad that politicians will use every oppoirtunity they have to line their pockets or those of which they are beholden. That is not what the majority of us sent them to congress to do. They need to address the immediate need and bring up the rest through regular legislation.

James Vohs - December 19, 2012

Vote NO!!! on this bill – – Just another fleecing of the American taxpayers.


Tom Caccia - December 19, 2012

If Harry Reid and senate democrats would allow the federal budget process to proceed as mandated by law, these “pet” projects could be better vetted through the proper procedures.

Charles Beauregard - December 19, 2012

NO, NO! This money should only go to that specific relief project and not other pet projects.

Warren Skuret - December 19, 2012

How much more insult could we tolerate! This depth of corruption at the federal level is very depressing and downright frightening. Can anyine stop it???

R.Arnold iIsley - December 19, 2012

No. Will Congress ever learn?

Marilyn Martin - December 20, 2012

It is a horrible situation that thosepeople out there are playing politics at our expense of survuval. Most selfish evil minded people. The president the most evil coniver and so fooled the democrats and others. The Bible says in the end times even the most elite and (common sense people) will be fooled.

Jeanne Ziemak - December 20, 2012

I would like to see bills introduced and use what their intended for. There is so much pork on this bill that it sounds like the government is spending a lot but in fact our lawmakers are getting money for pet projects. Stop with pork!!! No wonder this country is in so much debt. SPEND is all government knows how to do. And what I hate is sneaky spending disguised as relief!

Mary Elizabeth Kuck - December 20, 2012

Look at the devastation! How dare they divert money away
form helping those whose homes are totally lost, where children are
homeless with this realization, how can anyone have the nerve to
give money to Alaska fisheries, or to other projects that amount to
no more than earmarks for future votes. On top of that, there is
talk of sending over a billion dollars to Syria for the children.
What about the children here that have had everything taken from
them in this storm? The admiistration is a disgrase.

Thomas Fiddelke - December 20, 2012

No. Unfortunately it seems that it doesn’t matter which
party is in power. They both seem to think our problem is a lack of
revenue rather than overspending. We need to stop spending now. The
private sector has been pounded but federral, state and local
governments continue to spend at unsustainable rates. Where have
they sacrificed?

A Critic - December 20, 2012

This does not surprise. Our government is dysfunctional and our representatives only represent themselves or the highest bidder and almost to a man (or woman) they are all total scumbags. Even the “good ones!”

holly chapo - December 21, 2012

How cynical is that? I thought we had stopped creating earmarks. Perhaps I was on another planet with regard to that subject.

Ralph Burlock - December 22, 2012

No they “SHOULD NOT”, use deceptive means to support pet projects & only focus on the emergency $’s to help fix the disaster/act of God.

Diane Winston - December 22, 2012

Of course not. It seems obvious but since when did Congress
do the sensible and right thing when it comes to spending?

Joseph C. Beck - December 23, 2012

An absolute failure on the part of Congress if they give in
to these pork barrel projects under the cover of Sandy relief. I
have read some of the travasty built itno the bill and this is
rediculous. Let these States fund their own projects if they are so
important. It should not be put on our backs along with all the tax
increases built into Obamacare that we still do not know

Janet Vasek - December 23, 2012

Can you please tell me how to find out who authorized/voted
for the money to go to pet projects? I’d like all of us to give
them some feedback. Thank you. Janet

Theresa - December 29, 2012

Absolutely Not! Congress or the Obama Administration has no
right to take taxpayer money and hide how they spend it, or waste
it, which they do continually. That is why we are in debt 16

dean honeycutt - January 16, 2013

we should have a cleaning of the flock in washington,the politicans have one goal, get rich,keep the population in the dark on running the country.

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