Saying he wants to ensure emergency assistance bills only help those with emergencies, Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, introduced legislation that would limit how Congress responds to natural disasters.
Neugebauer’s legislation, the Responsible Emergency Appropriation Limits Supplemental Act, H.R. 6176, would change House rules so that an emergency supplemental appropriations bill can only provide for a single emergency, contain only emergency spending, and must be free of earmarks.
“The practice of loading up emergency bills with pork and other non-emergency items needs to come to an end,” said Neugebauer, who represents a portion of the High Plains. “Too often, good bills that address real emergencies turn into bad bills and taxpayers are left to foot the bill.”
Neugebauer cited a recent emergency appropriations bill as an example of legislation that became a spending magnet. Soon after President Bush submitted his request for funding the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in February, 2006, a separate bill to fund Gulf Coast recovery was added to his request.
In addition, unrelated, non-emergency items to fund projects in California, Hawaii and Illinois, among others, were included that increased the cost of the bill. Although the President’s initial request totaled $72.4 billion, the final price tag came to $94.5 billion.
“If it hadn’t been for the efforts of House conservatives and House leadership, taxpayers would have had to pay for billions of dollars in additional spending,” Neugebauer said. “By eliminating earmarks and allowing each emergency to be considered on its own merits, my bill would ensure that we respond quickly to emergencies as well as spend taxpayer dollars wisely and responsibly.”
Neugebauer’s REAL Supplemental Act has attracted 26 original cosponsors and garnered support from such fiscal watchdogs as the Americans for Tax Reform and the National Taxpayers Union.