Texas Republican votes on Hurricane Sandy relief has reignited a heated debate over disaster relief

  • The coming congressional need to provide disaster relief for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey has reopened wounds lingering from a Hurricane Sandy package.
  • Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn voted against a larger Sandy aid bill, saying it was full of "pork" and extraneous spending.
  • At the heart of the debate is what should be included in a disaster-relief package.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, one of the most pressing congressional items moving forward will be federal aid for a recovery that is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars.

Congress is expected to pass a disaster-relief bill, helping to provide much-needed funding for the affected areas of Texas and Louisiana.

But Texas Republicans' record on the disaster relief bill for Hurricane Sandy has drawn criticism and reignited old wounds in Congress this week as lawmakers prepare to address another round of hurricane-related damage.

Many Texas Republicans, most notably Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, voted against the disaster-relief bill designed to help with Sandy relief in 2013. 

RELATED: A look at Harvey's damage

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HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 27: Andrew White (L) helps a neighbor down a street after rescuing her from her home in his boat in the upscale River Oaks neighborhood after it was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi late Friday evening, is expected to dump upwards to 40 inches of rain in Texas over the next couple of days. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A graveyard is seen as it floods during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey August 27, 2017 in Pearland, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A family is rescued from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on a boat in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Local resident Kathy Neihaet walks through her damaged neighborhood after Hurricane Harvey hit Port Aransas, Texas on August 27, 2017. Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas coast with forecasters saying its possible for up to three feet of rain and 125 mpg wind. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
A flipped over truck and flooding are seen after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. As Harvey's winds die down, trouble for Texas has just begun as days of flooding rains across the heart of U.S. energy production threaten the country's fourth-largest city and leave farmers struggling to save horses, cows and crops. Photographer: Alex Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Flooding and a damaged home are seen after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. As Harvey's winds die down, trouble for Texas has just begun as days of flooding rains across the heart of U.S. energy production threaten the country's fourth-largest city and leave farmers struggling to save horses, cows and crops. Photographer: Alex Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images
TOPSHOT - Hurricane Harvey damage is seen in Bayside, TX August 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel KRAMER (Photo credit should read DANIEL KRAMER/AFP/Getty Images)
CITY-BY-The Sea, TX - AUGUST 26: Cows make their way through fallen power lines along the road near City-By-The Sea, TX as Hurricane Harvey hits the Texas coast on Saturday, Aug 26, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
People push a disabled car during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCKPORT, TX - AUGUST 26: Firefighters search for survivors at an apartment complex in Rockport, TX as Hurricane Harvey hits the Texas coast on Saturday, Aug 26, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Sterling Broughton is moved from a rescue boat onto a kayak in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
People are rescued from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey in an armored police mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle in Dickinson, Texas August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Texas National Guard soldiers aid stranded residents in heavily flooded areas from the storms of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas, U.S., August 27, 2017. Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD/Texas Military Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
A condominium complex is reduced to rubble after Hurricane Harvey struck Rockport, Texas August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Tim Freiberg moves through what was his garage after Hurricane Harvey struck Rockport, Texas August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Housing surrounded by flood waters caused by Hurricane Harvey is seen from a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter during an overflight from Port Aransas to Port O'Connor, Texas, August 26, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Johanna Strickland/Handout via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION WILL BE PROVIDED SEPARATELY.
A woman uses a coat hanger to try and retrieve an item from a destroyed house after Hurricane Harvey struck Fulton, Texas, August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A man walks past a business which was left damaged after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
A ranch house is surrounded by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey near Port Lavaca, Texas, August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Dead cows killed in Hurricane Harvey lie on highway 35 near Fulton, Texas, August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking
A storage facility that took damage from a tornado that spun off of Hurricane Harvey after the storm made landfall on the Texas Gulf coast, in Katy, Texas, U.S. August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Nick Oxford
Damage to the First Baptist Church of Rockport after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
People make their way down partially flooded roads following the passage of Hurricane Harvey on August 26, 2017 in Galveston, Texas. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A tree sits uprooted after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. As Harvey's winds die down, trouble for Texas has just begun as days of flooding rains across the heart of U.S. energy production threaten the country's fourth-largest city and leave farmers struggling to save horses, cows and crops. Photographer: Alex Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People walk through flooded streets as the effects of Hurricane Henry are seen August 26, 2017 in Galveston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Vehicles drive through a flooded street as the effects of Hurricane Henry are seen August 26, 2017 in Galveston, Texas. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Palm trees sit collapsed after Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas, U.S., on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017. As Harvey's winds die down, trouble for Texas has just begun as days of flooding rains across the heart of U.S. energy production threaten the country's fourth-largest city and leave farmers struggling to save horses, cows and crops. Photographer: Alex Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Badly damaged light planes in their hanger at Rockport Airport after heavy damage when Hurricane Harvey hit Rockport, Texas on August 26, 2017. Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation Saturday after the most powerful storm to hit the US mainland in over a decade slammed into Texas, destroying homes, severing power supplies and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee. / AFP PHOTO / Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Damage is seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey August 26, 2017 in Katy, Texas. Hurricane Harvey stalled over central Texas on Saturday, August 26, 2017, raising fears of 'catastrophic' flooding after the megastorm -- the most powerful to hit the United States since 2005 -- left a deadly trail of devastation along the Gulf Coast. The latest forecasts show that Harvey, now downgraded to tropical storm status, will hover along the shore for the next four or five days, dumping massive amounts of rain. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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When reporters challenged Cruz about his vote over the past few days, he has defended himself, citing "unnecessary pork" provisions in the Sandy bill as the reasons for his opposition. In 2013, Cruz called the Sandy bill a "Christmas tree" with gifts for various lawmakers' "pet projects."

Cornyn has also said this week that he voted against the bill because it became filled with extraneous spending.

The Sandy relief bills

There were two bills aimed at relief in Sandy's destructive wake. One was a smaller, $9.7 billion bill to restock the coffers of the National Flood Insurance Program. This bill passed relatively easily, with just a voice vote in the Senate, but it was opposed by a handful of Republicans in the House, including eight Republicans from Texas.

The other, more controversial and larger package, eventually passed with a bit over $50 billion in extra funding. The final passed version was smaller than the original Senate relief bill Cruz voted against, which requested just over $60 billion in funding.

There were additional funds in the larger bill that did not address the immediate impact of the recovery effort. The Congressional Budget Office has found that nearly all of the funding was related to the storm or to prevent future disasters. But the debate has reopened this week about what exactly a disaster-relief bill should include. 

National Review writer Theodore Kupfer argued in a piece shared widely by allies of the Texas Republicans that some additional funds in the Sandy bill were unrelated and addressed other disasters in states outside of the immediately affected areas.

"Much of the bundle of bacon that politicians squeezed into the Sandy relief bill had nothing to do with even the general category of hurricanes, much less Hurricane Sandy," Kupfer wrote. "If anyone was cynically exploiting a natural disaster to score political points, it was not those who opposed the bill but those who designed it."

RELATED: Hurricane Sandy through pictures

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Hurricane Sandy through pics
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Hurricane Sandy through pics
Raymond Souza carries away a ladder after boarding up Tidal Rave's 5 & 10 gift shop on the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, October 28, 2012 ahead of Hurricane Sandy's landfall. US emergency officials braced for the potentially massive impact of a so-called 'Frankenstorm' Sunday as Hurricane Sandy lumbered north in the Atlantic Ocean, poised to hit the eastern seaboard with torrential rains and gale-force winds. The superstorm was expected to make landfall somewhere between Virginia and Massachusetts early Tuesday, possibly causing chaos during the frenzied last days of campaigning before the November 6 US presidential vote. As it churned in a northeasterly direction, the massive weather system was at category one strength, the lowest-level hurricane on the five-tiered Saffir-Simpson scale, with maximum sustained winds of 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
SCITUATE, MA - OCTOBER 29: Waves crash over a jetty with Scituate Lighthouse and homes in the background as Hurricane Sandy arrives along the coast of Massachusetts. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 29: A man walks past a barricaded subway entrance near Battery Park during the arrival of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012 in New York City. The core of Sandy's force is supposed to hit the New York area Monday night. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
LINDENHURST, NY - OCTOBER 29: Joseph Arpaio of Massapequa abondons his car on 5th Street in Lindenhurst as high tide, rain and winds flood local streets on October 29, 2012 in Lindenhurst, New York. The storm, which threatens 50 million people in the eastern third of the U.S., is expected to bring days of rain, high winds and possibly heavy snow. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: Cars floating in a flooded subterranian basement following Hurricaine Sandy on October 30, 2012 in the Financial District of New York, United States. The storm has claimed at least 33 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 30: A downed tree in Capitol Hill after the passing of Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
FALMOUTH, MA - OCTOBER 29: A man drives around a fallen tree on Locust Street in Falmouth during Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Bill Greene/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A partially collapsed crane hangs from a 90-story residential building under construction on West 57th Street in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. Atlantic superstorm Sandy may cut U.S. economic growth as it keeps millions of employees away from work and shuts businesses from restaurants to refineries in one of the nationâs most populated and productive regions. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People are evacuated from a neighborhood in Little Ferry, New Jersey, one day after Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast on October 30, 2012. The death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 32 in the United States and Canada, and was expected to climb further as several people remained missing, officials said. Officials in the states of Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia all reported deaths from the massive storm system, while Toronto police said a Canadian woman was killed by flying debris. AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah (Photo credit should read MEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images)
Backyard furniture sits in disarray at the Ice House bar in the Red Hook neighborhood of the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. New York City officials began assessing damage after superstorm Sandy killed 10 people, sparked a fire that razed 80 homes in a Queens, flooded tunnels of the biggest U.S. transit system and left 750,000 customers without power, including the lower third of Manhattan. Photographer: Matthew Leising/Bloomberg via Getty Images
People look at a tree which fell during Hurricane Sandy in the Brooklyn borough of New York on October 30, 2012. The death toll from superstorm Sandy has risen to 32 in the United States and Canada, and was expected to climb further as several people remained missing, officials said. Officials in the states of Connecticut, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia all reported deaths from the massive storm system, while Toronto police said a Canadian woman was killed by flying debris. AFP PHOTO /Mehdi Taamallah (Photo credit should read MEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images)
COLD SPRING HARBOR, NY - OCTOBER 30: Residents view downed trees completely blocking Cold Spring Harbor Road in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in Cold Spring Harbor, New York. The storm has claimed at least a few dozen lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the U.S. east coast, including New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
A fleet of taxis sits submerged in water in Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. The Atlantic storm Sandy left a landscape of devastation across much of New Jersey, tearing apart seaside resort towns, ripping houses from foundations and littering the turnpike with rail cars and debris. Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: A firefighter looks through debris of a fire that destroyed over 50 homes during Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in the Breezy Point neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York. At least 33 people were reported killed in the United States by Sandy as millions of people in the eastern United States have awoken to widespread power outages, flooded homes and downed trees. New York City was hit especially hard with wide spread power outages and significant flooding in parts of the city. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 30: A man looks through the debris of his destroyed home after Hurricane Sandy on October 30, 2012 in the Rockaway section of the Queens borough of New York City. At least 40 people were reportedly killed in the U.S. by Sandy as millions of people in the eastern United States have awoken to widespread power outages, flooded homes and downed trees. New York City was hit especially hard with wide spread power outages and significant flooding in parts of the city. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
LONG BEACH, NY - OCTOBER 30: A boat sits on the dock at the East Marina in Point Lookout on October 30, 2012 in Long Beach, New York. The storm has claimed at least 40 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA- OCTOBER 30: A giant tree rests on the home at 804 S Overlook Drive in the Beverly Hills Alexandria neighborhood on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012. Neighbors said the owners left last night after the tree fell during the storm. (Photo by Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
CHESAPEAKE BEACH, MD - OCTOBER 30: A downed tree and power lines block Rt. 261 in Calvert County just south of Chesapeake Beach on Tuesday morning in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in Chesapeake Beach, MD, on October 30, 2012. (Photo by Ray K. Saunders /The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Massive fires destroyed 110 homes in Breezy Point, Queens as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Pictures taken during height of fire about 1 a.m. Oct 30, 2012. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: A PEPCO worker cuts a wire on a damaged utility pole on Idaho street after historic storm Sandy passes through on October, 30, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
People stand outside their apartment building October 31, 2012 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Hurricane Sandy which made landfall along the New Jersey shore, has left parts of the state and the surrounding area flooded and without power. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Passengers at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport remain stranded on October 31, 2012 even as the airport resumes some service after being closed due to Hurricane Sandy. Kennedy and Newark Liberty airports, both of which serve New York City, reopened Wednesday morning after being closed for days by Hurricane Sandy, the local port authority said. Two New York airports and Wall Street reopened, but the crippled subway system, traffic-clogged roads and large areas still without power pose a daunting hurdle before the Big Apple can declare itself back to normal. AFP PHOTO /Mehdi Taamallah (Photo credit should read MEHDI TAAMALLAH/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama comforts Hurricane Sandy victim Dana Vanzant as he visits a neighborhood in Brigantine, New Jersey, on October 31, 2012. Americans sifted through the wreckage of superstorm Sandy on Wednesday as millions remained without power. The storm carved a trail of devastation across New York City and New Jersey, killing dozens of people in several states, swamping miles of coastline, and throwing the tied-up White House race into disarray just days before the vote. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
LINDENHURST, NY - OCTOBER 31: Gary Silberman looks out to an area that was his bedroom after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy on October 31, 2012 in Lindenhurst, New York, United States. The storm has claimed many lives in the United States and has caused massive flooding across much of the Atlantic seaboard. U.S. President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the U.S. east coast, including New York City, with widespread power outages and significant flooding in parts of the city. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ - OCTOBER 31: Rescue workers gather around a house wrecked by Superstorm Sandy on October 31, 2012 in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. At least 50 people were reportedly killed in the U.S. by Sandy with New Jersey suffering massive damage and power outages. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
WAREHAM, MA - OCTOBER 31: Donald B. Hall had a kayak land inside a window at his home on Circuit Avenue after a microburst hit that was caused by remnants of Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] The American Red Cross Shelter set up at Whitman High School in Huntington Station, N.Y. just two days after Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island. 10-31-12
HAZLET TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 01: A man fills up jerry cans with gasoline as others wait in line on November 1, 2012 in Hazlet township, New Jersey. United States. Superstorm Sandy, which has left millions without power or water, continues to effect business and daily life throughout much of the eastern seaboard. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ - NOVEMBER 1: The roller coaster at the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, NJ on Nov. 1. The boardwalk was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
HIGHLANDS, NJ - NOVEMBER 01: An abandoned trailer home, with the words, 'Bye-bye Paradise, it was nice while it lasted,' spray painted on its side, is seen in the Paradise Park trailer Park on November 1, 2012 in Highlands, New Jersey. Superstorm Sandy, which has left millions without power or water, continues to affect business and daily life throughout much of the eastern seaboard. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Scenes of Hurricane Sandy's aftermath in the Breezy Point part of Far Rockawayon November 1, 2012 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Aby Baker/Getty Images)
American flag flies above a burned out Breezy Point, Queens in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by David Handschuh/NY Daily News via Getty Images)
KEYPORT, NJ - NOVEMBER 02: Boats once docked in Brown's Point Marina lie against a pier after being tossed by Superstorm Sandy on November 2, 2012 in Keyport, New Jersey. Keyport is a haven for boaters, resulting in hundreds of boats being scattered and/or wrecked, and several marinas destroyed. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
A rescue center is being organized by volunteers in the gymnasium next to St Gertrude's Church as New York recovers from Hurricane Sandy on November 4, 2012 in Far Rockaway, New York. Veterans of the campaign to bring Wall Street to a standstill are now in an army of volunteers helping the tens of thousands in a crippled district of New York one week after superstorm Sandy struck. Hundreds of volunteers have poured into Far Rockaway, a poor working class district on the fringes of New York City, which endured an horrific storm last Monday. AFP PHOTO / Veronique DUPONT (Photo credit should read Veronique DUPONT/AFP/Getty Images)
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In Cruz's argument, the bill should have only been for Hurricane Sandy relief and dealing with its immediate effects. The other items constituted "pork," he has said.

 

"The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy," he said in a recent NBC interview.

 

A short- or long-term fix?

 

Others have argued that a disaster-relief bill should be viewed not only as a short-term fix, but also as one that addresses the underlying and long-term issues that contributed to the disaster. 

 

Scott Knowles, a professor at Drexel University who studies public policy responses to disasters, tweeted Monday that a large amount of the long-term funding in the Sandy bill was designed to recognize and prevent similar future disasters.

 

"Here's the point — either you believe disaster relief is water bottles, sandbags, & shelters — OR you believe it is about reducing risk," Knowles tweeted. "The 'pork' bill so derided by the House GOP in 2013 was a good first pass on addressing the infrastructures we need to reduce risk. Congress won't appropriate funds for such a far-sighted approach, so we must wait to spend until after the disaster — that's NOT ideal."

 

For instance, one of the most scrutinized parts of the bill was an appropriation aimed at improving the weather data-gathering operation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

 

Critics suggested this was an example of "pork" in the bill and should go in separate legislation, since it did not address the immediate concerns relating to Sandy relief. Proponents say improving those services would help with disaster preparedness for a storm exactly like Sandy.

 

'1 bad turn doesn't deserve another'

 

Cruz has used the Congressional Budget Office score on the bill to show that only 30% of the funds were projected to be spent in the first two years after the bill was passed.

 

The Washington Post reported, however, that some of the money would be doled out over time to adjust for the needs of various municipalities. For instance, some subway tunnel repairs in New York City related to Sandy aren't getting underway until 2019.

 

Several lawmakers from the Northeast, including some Republicans, have expressed support for relief aid for Texas despite Cruz and others' votes on the Sandy bill.

 

"Ted Cruz & Texas cohorts voted vs NY/NJ aid after Sandy but I'll vote 4 Harvey aid. NY wont abandon Texas. 1 bad turn doesn’t deserve another," Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, tweeted Sunday.

 

Lawmakers have discussed the possibility of tying a Harvey relief bill to a broader funding package for the federal government or an increase in the debt ceiling. That would technically tie extraneous political concerns to legislation nominally designed to provide relief in the wake of the storm.

 

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SEE ALSO: Hurricane Harvey throws another wrinkle into Congress' wild 'budget brawl'

 

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