House Republicans finally pushed through their continuing resolution early this morning after finding yet another $100 million in spending cuts that satiated the conservatives who wouldn’t approve disaster relief funds without matching offsets. Immediately after it passed, spokespersons for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) took to Twitter to warn Senate Democrats against blocking funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), despite the fact that a bipartisan Senate majority passed a $7 billion FEMA relief package a week ago.
At a news conference today, Boehner and Cantor themselves joined in those warnings, attempting to blame Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his Democratic colleagues for blocking disaster relief funds. Cantor, who has repeatedly insisted that the House would not approve disaster relief funds without offsets, blasted Reid for “blocking” funds that victims of multiple natural disasters needed:
CANTOR: As the Speaker indicated, there are people who are suffering in a big way, and they need to know that FEMA and the disaster relief monies will be there for them.
That’s an interesting change of position for Cantor, who was the first Republican to mention exchanging disaster relief funds for spending offsets in the wake of the tornadoes that hit Joplin, Missouri in May. Cantor again insisted on offsets after the East Coast earthquake that was centered in Mineral, Virginia — the heart of his own district. And for good measure, Cantor again noted that offsets were necessary for disaster funds after Hurricane Irene battered states along the East Coast from North Carolina to Vermont.
Democrats in both the Senate and House have been attempting to approve disaster relief without massive spending offsets to popular programs, including those that once had broad Republican support. And they haven’t been alone in their opposition. Cantor’s actions on disaster relief earned him rebuke from multiple Republican governors and put him out of step with former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay (TX), who pushed through deficit-financed disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.