House rejects agency budget cuts in Sandy relief bill

Tuesday - 1/15/2013, 7:15pm EST

The House soundly rejected an amendment to the Superstorm Sandy aid bill that would have required an across-the-board 1.63 percent cut to agency spending to offset the emergency funding.

The final vote was 258-162.

Seventy-one Republicans joined nearly all House Democrats in voting down the amendment, introduced by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) . Among them, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who said Mulvaney's amendment amounted to "slash-and-burn cuts."

Mulvaney introduced a series of amendments last week seeking to defray some of the costs of the relief bill.

"This amendment is not about offering a poison pill to the underlying bill," Mulvaney said during floor debate ahead of the vote. "This amendment is not about preventing money from going where it is very desperately needed. I want that to happen. ... I'm here for one reason and one reason only: How can we pay for it?"

Along with the spending cuts, Mulvaney also proposed revoking a mass-transit tax subsidy for federal employees. However, the House Rules Committee nixed that proposal Monday and it never came up for a vote before the full House.

Federal-employee unions, such as the National Treasury Employees Unions, denounced both proposals.

"Many agencies, including those represented by NTEU have faced funding reductions over the last few years that have seriously hampered their ability to accomplish their missions," NTEU President Colleen Kelley wrote in a letter to lawmakers urging them to vote against the amendment.

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