Despite making promises not to do so, House Republicans are holding disaster relief funding hostage, demanding the money be offset by spending cuts elsewhere so as to not increase the deficit, even though this has never been done in the past. House Republicans finally passed a bill to fund FEMA and the rest of the government last week, but only days after the Senate passed their own version without offsets and after House conservatives killed an earlier version with slightly fewer spending cuts.
But speaking this morning on CNN, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said Congress should fund FEMA now and worry about the offsets later, drawing a sharp line against lawmakers using the funds as a “political football” while people are suffering:
CAIN: I would make sure that FEMA got the money it needed, and if I had to go find the offsets later, go find it later. Stop playing with peoples’ tragedies — these are real people we’re talking about.
HOST: So you’re saying, right now we should just fund FEMA and forget about the offsetting spending cuts, and maybe later, if we find them, then go back and get the deal done that way.
CAIN: Yes. … We’re going to have a gentleman’s agreement that we will find the offsets, rather than finding the offsets right in the middle of it and making it a political football.
Asked about Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-VA) comments yesterday that the Tea Party faction in the House is to blame for the hold up, Cain said the conservative lawmakers need to pick their battles better. “I would not make this a battleground, Cain said. “This is one that I would basically try to, you know, fall on my sword for — go ahead and do what’s right for the people.”
Cain added that Congress “should put politics aside” and fund FEMA because “people should not have to suffer because of the political bickering.” Congress returns to work today to try again, with FEMA money running out soon and funding for the rest of the government ending Friday.