In this video, Ted Cruz is asked by the newsanchor how he feels about asking for disaster relief funds in the wake of hurricane Harvey when he opposed such a bill for hurricane Sandy.

He argues that he is all for disaster relief, but that the hurricane Sandy bill became a 50 billion dollar bill, 2/3 of which were "pork spending" that had nothing to do with Sandy, which is why he opposed that bill. Is it true that the bill contained that much unrelated material? One of the YouTube comments links to an act that reads more like a 10 billion dollar increase in spending for the National Flood Insurance Program. But maybe that's not the relevant bill in this case?

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    As a non-native speaker, I had to figure out the meaning of "pork spending" from the context. Is there a better, more readily understood / more precise term for it?
    – DevSolar
    Aug 29, 2017 at 10:45
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    @DevSolar I dont think that has anything to do with being a native speaker. I naively speak the language where it originates, and I have zero clue what it means. More likely an Americanism. As always wiki is a fairly good reference for the meaning of obscure terms like this.
    – Jamiec
    Aug 29, 2017 at 11:39
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    It should be noted that the whole question revolves around that phrase. As it stands, "pork spending" is pretty much the definition of what an answer could be about...
    – DevSolar
    Aug 29, 2017 at 11:41
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    "pork barrel" spending is the more complete term. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel It's a matter of opinion.
    – DavePhD
    Aug 29, 2017 at 12:28
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    By all means, feel free to rephrase my question; I'm not a native speaker myself, and I just copied the phrase Mr. Cruz was using in that video. Aug 29, 2017 at 12:50

1 Answer 1



WP fact checked this and scored it 3 pinocchios

WP did reach out to Cruz's staff for clarification on what does the senator consider "pork". Here is what they were told and their analysis on it:

We sought a comment from Cruz’s staff, who understandably are busy. Update: As we suspected, Cruz’s reference to two-thirds was in reference to the slow spending of the funds, not pork, but that’s a misunderstanding of the CBO score. Spokeswoman Catherine Frazier cited $33 billion in long-term spending, including the $16 billion in Community Development Block Grants for a range of disasters. She flagged $10.9 billion in Federal Transit Administration aid, but according to CRS half of that was directed toward Sandy response and recovery efforts. Beside many of the line items described above, she also cited $122 million for Amtrak, of which about a quarter was for repairs of the Manhattan terminal and the rest for recovery and resiliency projects in the affected area.

A quick look at the Disaster relief law reveals that most funding was disaster relief related. Here is list of large ticket items mentioned in the bill that I compiled after taking a cursory look:

Fed Transportation Authority: $5,400,000,000
Community Development Fund: $3,850,000,000
Dep of Agriculture: $218,000,000
corps of engineers:  $742,000,000 (771 million total )
NOAA 290 mil
corps of engineers $3,461,000,000
Disaster Loans Program Account: $520,000,000
State and Tribal Assistance Grants: $600,000,000
Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund:  $800,000,000,
Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program: $10,900,000,000
Community Development Fund: $16,000,000,000

You can search the bill yourself for those amounts (that add up to well over 1/3 of the total $50 billion the bill allocated by the way) and read the details for yourself, but it appears that the funding is mostly disaster relief related.

  • So one part of this answer quotes the Congressional Research Service (CRS) as saying half of the $10.9 went to Sandy response and recovery efforts, and another part makes it sound like all of the $10.9 is for Sandy.
    – DavePhD
    Aug 29, 2017 at 19:15
  • @DavePhD My intention was to give a list of some of the big ticket items that the OP can read up on, not to imply that it all went to disaster relief. I don't have the time to follow on the breakdown of those top-level numbers, and some of them branch out quite a lot. If you think you can re-word my answer to read better, please free to edit.
    – ventsyv
    Aug 29, 2017 at 19:31
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    Also of note is a lot of the additions to the spending amounts were put in to get the people who were opposed to it to agree to vote for it (a ton of that additional spending wound up in Texas, etc), so the defense that the vote against was because of extra spending added is muddied by the chicken/egg conundrum of that spending being added because of opposition and the need to essentially buy the votes to make it happen. Aug 30, 2017 at 17:02

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