Where’s the Pork?

Will Berger, Contributing Writer

On Friday the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a $9.7 billion package to pay flood insurance claims resulting from Hurricane Sandy, in spite of a delay caused by Republican speaker and Grinch stunt-double, John Boehner.

The vote came more than two months after the storm — and after Boehner employed the silent treatment strategy to both Democrats and Republicans. All of the no votes were cast by House Republicans whose primary concern was the considerable “pork” built into both the House and Senate versions of the original $60 billion bill, such as “$150 million for fishery disasters in a range of states — including Alaska and Mississippi,” although I’m pretty sure Alaska and Mississippi aren’t in the tri-state area. This could make sense if the continents were still aligned in its pre-historic Pangea formation, or if you’re using Apple Maps.

The House decided to split up the original $60 billion bill into $9.7 billion for flood insurance and $51 billion for relief and reconstruction, the latter of which has all the pork. But although the $9.7 billion bill contains about as much pork as you would find in an Orthodox synagogue, 67 Republican members of the House still voted no.

Strangely enough, a large proportion of the no votes came from representatives of Louisiana, Texas, and Florida, whose states have received millions of dollars in emergency aid from previous disasters, most notably Hurricane Katrina. Among the naysayers were all four representatives from Kansas, which is very puzzling considering that their state has disasters so bad, they transport people to magical kingdoms.

Even before the vote, Republican Congress members received tongue-lashings for the delay, most notably from Republican Governor Chris Christie. “Last night, the House Majority failed most the basic test of leadership and they did so with callous disregard to the people of my state … It was disappointing and disgusting to watch … Shame on you, shame on Congress,” said Christie. Although he is probably not as concerned with the massive pork because he can eat 20lbs of it in a sitting. In a joint statement with Governor Cuomo they said: “The people of our states can no long afford to wait while politicians in Washington play games.” They’re waiting to find out that it was Boehner in the Dining Room with the lead pipe.

On January 15 Congress will vote on the remaining $51 billion bill, which is unlikely to pass without pig-related discussions. But even if this whole “pork” issue is a legitimate beef (no pun intended), is now really the time to reform the way our government provides emergency aid? Let’s just wait until people are no longer able to build sand castles in their own homes to start changing the discourse in Washington.