This vote was on $36.5 billion in “emergency” spending as a response to damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate, as well as wildfires in California and other Western states.
By the numbers, the bill is fiscally irresponsible, containing no spending offsets for the over $18 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief fund, which will likely never be repaid.
Additionally, the bill contained what amounts to a $16 billion bailout of the National Flood Insurance program (NFIP), which is almost $30 billion in debt. The bailout of the NFIP skews the market by encouraging development in flood-prone areas by subsidizing insurance rates for homes and businesses in these high-risk zones. In effect, taxpayers from across the nation are contributing to the flood insurance premiums of those living in flood zones. In addition to putting American citizens in danger, it wastes taxpayer dollars by pouring them into a failing government insurance program. The program is in need of serious structural reforms, but instead receives a never-ending stream of taxpayer money.
On a larger scale, the disaster supplemental fits into a larger, wasteful Washington, D.C., practice of patching up the effects of natural disasters with cash injections, rather than planning ahead for them or cutting spending to pay for them, thus growing the U.S.’s already bloated national debt. The Senate voted and passed this bill on October 24, 2017 in a roll call vote of 82-17.
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Conservative position: NO
Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Van Hollen (D-MD)