- - Friday, January 11, 2013

New Jersey Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews is demanding his colleagues strip pork payouts from a massive aid bill intended to help victims of Superstorm Sandy.

“I’m very concerned that this Sandy relief bill not be a gravy train,” Andrews told reporters Friday. “I want to be sure that, to the extent possible, every dollar in this bill pertains to Sandy relief.”

The Senate’s Sandy bill, first introduced last month, includes millions of dollars that would never touch the affected Northeast. Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group, released an analysis of the bill on Thursday, stating the $51 billion measure includes millions for roof repairs at Smithsonian buildings, FBI salaries and expenses, and for the Drug Enforcement Administration to repair 15 vehicles.

Under the terms of the bill, every state except Arizona, Michigan and South Carolina would be competing for the money, Taxpayers for Common Sense found.

The Senate approved $60.4 billion for Sandy victims in December, but that vote was nullified when the new 113th Congress was sworn in Jan. 3. House Republicans had abruptly pulled the plug on the bill, receiving flack from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, including New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Rep. Andrews dismissed speculation from other Democrats that removing the so-called “pork” could hurt the legislation’s chances.

“If the House passes a bill that is clean, that only helps the areas of the country that have been afflicted by the storm, then I think the pressure on the Senate to act would be considerable,” he told USA Today. “I don’t think money to Alaska or to rebuild a roof that was not damaged by the storm is justified.”

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