By Mary Orndorff Troyan

Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - A South Carolina Republican is proposing across-the-board cuts in federal programs to offset the $51 billion Congress may approve for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

"I know how important the supplemental relief is to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, but I believe we can provide that relief while finding ways to pay for it rather than adding to the nation's ballooning deficit," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land.

The disaster package is scheduled for a House vote on Tuesday.
Mulvaney has drafted two amendments that would slash about $36 billion from the federal budget. One would cut all discretionary federal programs, including defense programs, by 1.63 percent. The amendment would not apply to entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

The second amendment would cut programs that help federal employees pay for public transit costs and provide direct subsidy payments to farmers, including those who grow wheat, corn and peanuts. The amendment also would cut future spending on the Troubled Asset Relief Program for failing financial institutions.

Mulvaney also has drafted a third amendment that would require periodic accountability reports on how the disaster relief money is spent.

He plans to pitch his amendments on Monday to the House Rules Committee, which will decide whether to send them to the House floor with the disaster package. More than 25 amendments had been filed by Friday afternoon. Many would cut specific provisions from the $51 billion disaster package.

Mulvaney was one of several Republicans who voted against the $9.7 billion that Congress approved to help pay flood insurance claims from Hurricane Sandy, because the spending did not include corresponding budget cuts.

Mulvaney acknowledged that South Carolina has been hit by hurricanes, and he said he supports disaster relief as a "proper function" of government.

Congress historically has not required disaster relief to be offset by other spending cuts.

"Indeed, if we cannot come together under these tragic circumstances to find a way to pay for this relief, do we seriously believe we will have the political will to ever balance the budget?" Mulvaney said.