Fact Check: Was 2013 Hurricane Sandy Relief Package ‘Full of Pork’?

The spokesman also pointed to a Congressional Quarterly analysis that said that $17 billion in the bill went toward immediate aid for Sandy victims while $33.5 billion was for “near- and long-term assistance and mitigation” of damage from future disasters.

But providing nonemergency aid and preparing for future storms are not the same as spending on projects that are entirely unrelated to Sandy.

Mr. Cruz’s original claim — that just $16 billion to $17 billion was actually connected to disaster relief — is similarly not plausible, as is evident from even a cursory look at the CQ analysis and another breakdown of the aid from the Congressional Research Service.

More than $28 billion was allocated to programs for Sandy relief. They included money for the Federal Emergency Management disaster fund ($11.5 billion), repairs for damaged transit systems ($10.9 billion), repairs to damaged Army Corps of Engineers projects and dredging ($5.35 billion), disaster loans to small business ($520 million) and emergency farm, food and conservation assistance ($224 million).

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker awarded Mr. Cruz three Pinocchios out of four for his statement.

The Sandy package also provided substantial funding to ease the impact of future storms. It earmarked more than $200 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve and study weather forecasting, $86 million for Amtrak recovery and resiliency projects in the affected area and $50 million to the Corps of Engineers for storm damage reduction studies, for example.

Mr. Flores’s claim that areas not affected by Sandy also received funding is correct, but the money was nonetheless earmarked for emergencies. (The law’s title, after all, is Disaster Relief Appropriations.)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, was allowed to distribute $16 billion to areas affected by Sandy or by other disasters in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The American territories that Mr. Flores listed were eligible for no more than $20 million of the $2 billion in emergency relief for highways affected by a natural disaster.

So what was Mr. Flores referring to in criticizing “pork” in the Sandy relief bill?

Head Start, the federal program for low-income preschoolers, received $100 million. But even that was storm-related; more than 100 of its centers were damaged by Sandy, the office said.

The provision “necessary expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy” was also attached to funding for Justice Department agencies, many of which have offices in the areas damaged by the storm. This was also true of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and veterans’ cemeteries — which all sustained damage during the storm.

The law also provided $25 million for assistance to dislocated workers “directly related to Hurricane Sandy.” Similarly, $500 million for a social services program was limited only to New York and New Jersey, which were hit hardest by the storm.

And lastly, NOAA was awarded $44.5 million for repairs and upgrades to aircraft known as hurricane hunters that are crucial to forecasting storms. The funding allowed the agency to refurbish NOAA’s two planes — one of which has been monitoring Harvey.

Continue reading the main storySource: New York Times – Politics

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