After contentious battles over emergency disaster relief funding in 2011, congressional Democrats and Republicans reached a bipartisan agreement during the August debt talks that would make it easier to fund disaster relief in the future. But that deal, like others reached under the Budget Control Act, would be voided by the House Republican budget, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI).
According to a legislative report on the House GOP’s budget, the disaster relief deal will not be recognized in the future should the budget take effect. Instead, emergency funds would have to be offset with other spending cuts, Politico reports:
“The budget assumes that any future disaster-relief-designated spending relief will be fully offset within the discretionary levels provided in this resolution,” the report reads. “Accordingly, the budget does not assume the extension of the disaster funding enacted last year and the upward adjustment of the BCA’s spending caps for subsequent years and it reflects the removal of this spending.”
The result of rolling back that deal is that future efforts to fund disaster relief will likely be heavily politicized, as they were in the wake of multiple disasters in 2011. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) took disaster relief funds hostage when he repeatedly declared that the House wouldn’t fund it without spending offsets. The GOP then attempted to cut spending from programs they opposed to pay for disaster relief, then nearly forced a government shutdown over the funds before buying off conservative members with additional spending cuts.
Last year wasn’t the first time that House Republicans attempted to hold disaster relief hostage to extract spending cuts from programs they opposed. By rolling back the 2011 deal, they’re ensuring that if their budget passes, it won’t be the last time either.