SEE ALSO: Sandy aid package passes, Perry votes no
Newly seated Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, was among 67 House Republicans who on Friday voted against a $9.7 billion plan to pay flood insurance claims for victims of Superstorm Sandy, saying the bill was "political posturing" and "doesn't even help the people."
The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 354-67 and with the support of most of the Republican caucus, gives the National Flood Insurance Program more borrowing authority so it can pay about 115,000 claims for people whose homes and businesses were hit by the storm, as well as about 5,000 unrelated claims.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency had warned that the program would run out of money next week if Congress didn't provide additional borrowing authority.
Perry said the program is already out of money, and that's half the reason he voted against the measure.
"The program is already 20 billion in debt, so it's already insolvent," he said. "I think we all want to help our neighbors ... but that's just piling on and adding other debt to the taxpayers."
The bill included no savings elsewhere to pay for the new debt, so it's adding to the national overspending problem, Perry said.
In addition to the debt, "half the money won't be spent until 2014 or beyond," he said. "Giving them money in 2014 isn't going to get the lights back on right now...It's throwing money after a bad situation and it doesn't even help the people."
Whatever the amount of money, the bill is "more posturing than helping" if all of it doesn't get to the recipients in time for it to be helpful, he said.
Perry said he would've supported legislation that gave all help right away and "made some foundational change to the program to eliminate the 20 billion in debt that they already have."
The new congressman said he has been in discussions with the other Republicans who voted against the bill, and he's hoping the volume of dissent "alerts folks to sharpen their pencils" when drafting the next Sandy-related measure.
He said another bill heading for the House includes "rooftops for government buildings in states far away" from the Sandy damage, and he and others won't vote for "another" package unless leadership is willing to "take that pork out of there and make the spending meaningful."
Perry said he grew up along York County's Yellow Breeches and is "sympathetic and empathetic" to those who've experienced flooding.