I first posted about the budget dilemma Hurricane Sandy presented to congressional Republicans in general and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on October 31. At that time I said there were three questions:
First, how much aid will be needed and what will it be used for?
Second, will congressional Republicans demand reductions in other spending to offset the impact of the new Sandy-related aid?
Third, how will House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) deal with this situation?
The questions are now starting to be answered.
- The total amount of aid that will be requested by the states affected by Sandy will be between $80 billion and $100 billion.
- House and Senate Republicans seem poised to demand offsetting spending cuts for the aid.
- Boehner does indeed have a huge political problem that’s will be made even larger than I had assumed in March by what is certain to be an unrelenting demand for the additional spending from the suddenly very popular Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
How does Boehner agree to the aid without offsets without completely alienating his tea party wing?
Given that the White House isn’t likely to propose them, how does Boehner come up with $100 billion in spending cuts from the domestic side of the budget that will be politically acceptable to anyone — including Republicans — given that would be about 20 percent of all nondefense appropriations?
How does Boehner stand firm against the Sandy aid without offsets when doing so will hurt every GOP incumbent and candidate for every office in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut?
How does Boehner stay speaker if he gives in on the aid without offsetting and cuts a fiscal cliff deal with the White House that extends all the tax cuts for upper income individuals?