Calculating the 'pork' in Sandy relief bill

NYC councilman Dan Halloran sounds off


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 4, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The Sandy aid check almost in the mail. So, why is a New York politician all but saying return to sender?

Wow. Welcome, everybody. I'm Neil Cavuto.

And the new House quickly approving a Sandy aid package that was shelved in the old House. Now, it's only -- I say only -- $10 billion up front, and the other $50 billion is on tap. But that is the same $50 billion that Northeast politicians have been bellowing about, right?

But not all Northeast politicians. New York City Republican Councilman Daniel Halloran says that if it is loaded with pork and goodies for folks who don't need it or deserve it or for whom Sandy, well, isn't a remote part of it, stuff it. He doesn't want it.

Councilman with me right now.

Councilman, well, we do know that it's going to be loaded with a lot of that stuff.


CAVUTO: What do you think of that?

HALLORAN: Well, look, again, this goes back to the government's problem of spending. It just doesn't know how to control itself.

Of the $60 billion allocated for supposedly the emergency relief and hurricane bill, you're talking about roughly $24 billion of which has absolutely nothing to do with hurricane relief. It is going to projects like the Alaska fisheries. It is going to projects like Amtrak subsidies, at the tune of almost $330 million. These are things that have nothing to do with any of the hurricane damage and more importantly are adding on to the national deficit at a time everyone claims they want to deal with it.

CAVUTO: Councilman, A., I admire your guts here. You might have some constituents getting mad hearing you, but I know what you are talking about, but I'm wondering how, sir, they came up with the $60 billion for largely the New York metropolitan area, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, how they came up with that figure? Did they factor in that a third of it would be stolen? What?

HALLORAN: Well, no, no, they didn't factor in stealing from the pot here.

The governors of New York and New Jersey made some pretty conservative estimates of about $80 billion of infrastructure damage that would need to be repaired, both federal and state levels and local spending. The government said, OK, we will get you about two-thirds of that, $60 billion. However, to get out of the Senate and to get the approval of senators from places like Alaska, it took pork to be added to this bill to the tune of about $24 billion and an additional $12 billion of that spending has nothing to do with relief on the ground aid.

It is future mitigation aid, things like looking at the coastlines and analyzing where we can build better sand bars.

CAVUTO: Well, bottom line, that $60 billion that the governors wanted, and let's say it was all for the purposes of which they intended, to help their states, to buttress their shorelines, whatever you have, then that is $24 billion politicians stole from hurricane victims.

HALLORAN: That's right. That is right.

And not only did they steal it from them. They have done exactly what the American people asked them not to do over the past year, which is to add to the deficit, because this is not spending accounted for in the general budget resolutions passed by both houses.

CAVUTO: But you know Councilman, a lot of people do not know what you are saying, that you're sharper and more attuned to this than I will ever be, but all they know is they have made Speaker Boehner in the media out to be a villain and a Satan because he wanted some accountability with this dough and it turns out there is very little accountability with this dough.


And to give you an example, an allotment of several hundred million dollars is going to the Army Corps of Engineers, a fine institution, but there is absolutely no check on what they need to spend it on. It may have nothing to do with hurricane remediation and it's still going to get spent.

Look, our government has an obligation to pass a budget each year. Fisheries, line items for homeland security, these are things that should be in the general budget, not in an emergency aid bill. Speaker Boehner was wrong to let Congress recess without stripping this bill down and voting aye on the needed moneys and then sending it back to the Senate, who gleefully had gone home and weren't ready to deal with the fact that the bill should be stripped down to what it needs to do for the citizens of New York, New Jersey, and the Delmar area.

CAVUTO: Fascinating, absolutely fascinating.

Councilman, thank you very, very much.

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