Porkulus: Senator Begich Gets $150 Million Dollars for Hurricane Sandy Relief in Alaska?

photo credit: afge

The Senate’s emergency spending bill to cover costs from Hurricane Sandy includes millions of dollars that will never touch the affected Northeast — including money for salmon fisheries in Alaska, cash for an expansion of train service into New York, and funds to preserve and repair historic properties.

Lawmakers begin debating the bill Monday on the Senate floor, where the first thing they will confront is the size and scope of the $60.4 billion package, which aims to repair damage and to build protection against storms.

President Obama submitted his wish list to Congress, but senators added their own priorities. For example, Mr. Obama asked for $32 million to repair part of the Amtrak rail system not covered by insurance, but the Senate multiplied that request more than tenfold, to $336 million, with the extra money going to cover Amtrak’s operating losses and to increase train capacity into New York City.

The Sandy recovery bill also includes more than $500 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which amounts to a full tenth of what the agency spends per year, nationwide.

Part of that is $150 million for “fishery disasters,” which means money could flow to Mississippi’s blue crab and oyster industries, and to Alaska, where one senator said Chinook salmon have suffered.

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