The House, in approving a Hurricane Sandy relief package Tuesday, defeated a proposal to offset some of the cost by imposing across-the-board cuts in many federal programs.
An amendment that would have ordered a 1.63 percent cut over the remainder of the current fiscal year was defeated on a 258-162 vote. Sponsors said the cost of the relief package should not be added to the federal deficit, but opponents cited the tradition of not offsetting spending arising out of emergencies.
If approved, the cut would have hit many of the same accounts that already are facing cuts of up to about 10 percent starting in March under sequestration. Those cuts, if allowed to happen, could trigger unpaid furloughs of employees, among other belt-tightening steps.
A separate part of the original spending offset plan, to end the subsidies that federal agencies can pay to their employees to use public transit in their commuting, had been dropped in the House Rules Committee prior to floor consideration of the relief bill.
The issue now moves to the Senate, which in December passed a similar Sandy relief measure not requiring an offset. The Senate must take up its bill again because that vote occurred in the prior Congress.