“Realistically, the only way that these mitigation funds are going to be there is in this plan,” Rep. Robert E. Andrews, D-N.J., said of the Senate’s pending bill. “Everything we need should be in the supplemental, and it should be done as quickly as possible.”
James P. Moran of Virginia, a senior Democratic appropriator, said that some of the mitigation needs might be addressed in routine spending bills, which face budget caps, but that these efforts would fall short of what’s needed.
“It’s too much to do,” Moran said.
Indeed, White House budget projections signal that, given the current trajectory of federal spending, agencies involved in Sandy mitigation projects would have a hard time finding money for an expanded work list.
The Office of Management and Budget estimates that the Army Corps of Engineers’ annual spending on civil works will drop to $5.15 billion in fiscal 2017 from an expected $8.137 billion in fiscal 2013. Moreover, House appropriators are seeking to cut the corps’ civil works spending by $188 million — to $4.81 billion — while their Senate counterparts seek to provide an increase of just $5 million — less than 1 percent.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.