A $100 steak knife, a $600 filing cabinet, $300,000 in sports equipment and an $88,000 tactical combat vehicle may have nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina, but those items were paid for as part of a multibillion-dollar spending bill that Congress quickly passed after the 2005 storm, which has prompted lawmakers to become skeptical of disaster-relief bills.
Twelve years later, with Hurricane Harvey still dumping water on flood-ravaged Houston, some are already worried that the next relief bill will pose the same problem: millions of dollars spent on wasteful or unrelated projects.
"We should be meting out the funds at a slower pace so we can actually see what is needed and what is necessary, and that is our concern about disaster funding," Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, told the Washington Examiner.
"We write the big checks and figure out what it means as we go, rather than identifying needs," he said of the current process.
GOP criticism of disaster-spending bills is fueled by reports that the legislation becomes a magnet for projects that are not directly related to the disaster.
That was the case in 2013, when Congress passed a $50.5 billion supplemental spending bill to provide relief to the states damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The bill included $25 million to improve weather forecasting and $86 million for non-Sandy-related upgrades for Amtrak. It also provided $2 billion for disaster spending in states not damaged by Sandy.
Congressional Republicans from Texas who voted against the bill at the time due to fiscal concerns have been defending the decision now that they are asking for federal funding to aid their own state.
"Of course, the federal government has a critical role in disaster relief," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who voted against the Sandy funding, told CNN. "But you should not have members of Congress that are exploiting disasters to fund their pet projects. And so there will be time for all of those debates in Washington."
Congressional leaders have endorsed passing some kind of federal funding for Harvey. Lawmakers return on Sept. 5 and will be scrambling to pass a stop-gap spending bill to fund the federal government beyond the Sept 30 end of the fiscal year.
They could attach Harvey funding to that bill, although FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund may run dry soon, which would result in faster congressional action.
"The optics don't look good if they say we'll get to it later on, when we are doing other things," Ellis said.
One hurdle, however, is that Congress has not received a funding request from the Trump administration, GOP aides said.
"We will help those affected by this terrible disaster," said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "The first step in that process is a formal request for resources from the administration."
Vice President Mike Pence, in a radio interview on Tuesday, suggested Congress would not hesitate to approve new funding and stressed the need for Congress to work quickly.
"I can assure you that the heart of our national government — the Congress of the United States and this White House — will work in concert, will work quickly," Pence said. "And we'll make sure the financial support is available for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey."
But It could be contentious.
The January 2013 House vote to pass $50 billion in Sandy aid produced 179 GOP no votes. Many Republicans had sought offsets or cuts to the bill, and that is likely to be the case if the GOP introduces a Harvey spending bill.
Republican opposition increased dramatically from 2005, when the House passed a $51.8 billion disaster relief bill following Hurricane Katrina by a vote of 410-11.
Harvey's federal price tag could be massive and could dwarf that of Sandy and Katrina. Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, said on CNN Tuesday he believes the flooding restoration would cost "in excess of $100 billion" and could take decades to complete.
Regardless of how quickly Congress passes a big relief package, spending on actual recovery efforts is likely to be slow, as it has been for the distribution of funds related to Katrina and Sandy.
As of August 2014, two years after Sandy, less than 40 percent of the federal funding for that storm was obligated to needed projects and less than 25 percent of the funding had been spent, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense.
The Sandy relief bill included money for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, which is now being spent in Texas.