If the congressional “relief” package for Hurricane Sandy four years ago is any indication, the damage not necessarily done by Hurricane Harvey is just beginning.

Using hurricane relief as a cover to green-light all manner of legislative funny business — usually pet projects without the momentum to pass on their own — is a dereliction of duty when Congress’ course should be clear. Yet gaming this latest relief package already has begun — even as Hurricane Irma takes aim at Florida.

After months of advocating for a “clean” debt-ceiling bill, the Trump administration now reportedly wants to tie an increased debt limit — without a dime in spending cuts — to the Harvey spending bill. As Club for Growth President David McIntosh put it, the idea is “abhorrent.” Using one issue to leverage the other is outrageous, especially when an all-but-certain debt-ceiling fix (due by the end of September) demands a reduction in congressional spending.

Heaven knows what other unrelated “needs” will be packaged with Harvey relief when all the sausage-making is done. Back in 2013, Congress packed Sandy aid legislation with unnecessary fillers, including $150 million for Alaskan fisheries and $8 million for new federal cars and equipment.

Congress’ duty is to help the many lives torn asunder by Hurricane Harvey, not to absolve its debt-ceiling duty or to curry political favor from lobbyists or others far removed from the devastation.


(c)2017 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

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