The National Treasury Employees Union on Friday slammed a Republican House proposal that would offset emergency funding for Hurricane Sandy with spending cuts that would affect the federal workforce.
Congress has already dedicated about $10 billion to the federal flood insurance program in Sandy’s wake, but lawmakers are considering a separate relief package expected to total about $50 billion.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) has proposed a pair of amendments to the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act that would offset about $17 billion in emergency funding by requiring across-the-board 1.63 percent cuts for all federal agencies and by ending the mass-transit benefit for federal workers.
In a letter to the House Rules Committee, NTEU president Colleen M. Kelley called on lawmakers to reject the provisions, saying they would single out and punish federal employees while reducing funding for agencies that have already undergone cuts affecting their ability to perform their missions.
“Many federal employees, already subject to a two-year pay freeze and increased pension contributions, depend on public transportation to get to and from work, and rely on the transit benefit to provide relief in their commuting costs,” Kelley said of the transit amendment.
The union president added that eliminating the transportation benefit “would only serve to worsen their economic situation and undermine the goal of the benefit — to encourage more mass transit participation.”
Mulvaney’s amendments, among others that GOP lawmakers have considered, could end up dividing House Republicans, some of whom serve areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie (R) has chided lawmakers, including those from his own party, for their slowness in providing disaster relief in the aftermath of the hurricane, which swept through the Mid-Atlantic more than two months ago.
During his State of the State address, Christie called for expedited aid from the federal government, saying: “Some things are above politics.”