Last week, the Washington Examiner busted Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney for flip-flopping on Community Development Block Grants, a Democrat-loved form of porky spending once opposed by Mulvaney but now apparently being championed by him as part of the White House strategy for dealing with hurricane-related disasters earlier this year.
This week, it appears that Democrats in Congress are about to make the Mulvaney flip-flop even worse than it needs be… by obstructing legislation that would mitigate unnecessary federal disaster spending because—get this—they weren’t “included” sufficiently in discussions about moving the legislation in question forward. Mitch and Paul were mean to Chuck and Nancy, it seems.
From the Examiner, here’s some background on the Mulvaney flip-flop:
…there was widespread indignation at Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s call to cut Community Development Block Grants that fund the senior assistance program. “The CDBGs have been identified as programs since I believe the first, actually the second Bush administration,” Mulvaney told reporters, “as ones that were just not showing any results.”
But what the administration condemned in March, they now seek to employ in November. Mulvaney has asked Congress for $12 billion in these grants to help with disaster relief.
“The Administration also proposes a $12.0 billion appropriation for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program focused on flood mitigation projects,” Mulvaney wrote to House Speaker Paul Ryan in a Nov. 17 letter, “which would be awarded competitively to States and Territories that had more than one flood-related major disaster declaration in the past four years.”
As a reminder, Community Development Block Grants—the thing Mulvaney and the Trump White House are now signaling they’re totally cool with—are inefficient and don’t often send the money where it is needed most and have been tagged as “chock full of cronyism and corruption.”
Now, via the offices of Rep. Bill Shuster and Rep. Barletta comes something that *might* be a partial solution to this problem. But guess what? As it stands, it’s not moving forward—because of Democrats.
The Disaster Recovery Reform Act doesn’t block any disaster relief money proposed for Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, or other parts of the US impacted by disasters this year. But it does try to address the ongoing problem of more money being expended going forward on disaster recovery by incentivizing states and tribal governments to invest in disaster mitigation upfront, and reforming FEMA and the Stafford Act to ensure that a percentage of post-disaster money actually is spent on pre-disaster mitigation. This matters because at least according to this study by the National Institute of Building Sciences , $1 spent upfront on mitigation saves about $4 in post-disaster recovery funding. In other words, the DRRA is trying to keep you and me from having to shell out more than we need to the next time a hurricane or spate of wildfires hits.
So, obviously, it’s something Democrats are blocking. They want the disaster funding, including the Community Development Block Grants. They just don’t want to pass anything to prevent excess money from being expended in future because, boo hoo, mean Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan haven’t been talking to them enough.
The big question here is whether anyone is going to notice this, call Democrats out for being petty obstructionists, and force them to get with the program. Rumors are that Claire McCaskill might not be totally thrilled with Democratic positioning on this issue, and if so, that would matter a lot since some Democratic votes would be needed in the Senate to advance the issue.
Wait and see, though; this is a little-noticed issue that’s going to get a lot less attention than tax reform conference committees, Roy Moore, and possible government shutdowns, fairly or unfairly.