McConnell Visits Kentucky County Hit By Tornadoes, Doesn’t Mention Voting To Hold Disaster Relief Hostage Last Year

A month after deadly tornadoes ripped through Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) used part of his spring recess to visit storm victims. Five died in the March 2 tornadoes that hit Laurel County, Kentucky, where McConnell visited Saturday, and the area was among the most devastated by the storms.

McConnell came to Laurel County to “thank all the volunteers that have been helping this community come together and comfort those that lost their homes,” he said, and the county’s residents were happy to see him, WKYT reports:

“It’s comforting to know not only for myself but also the other victims in the area that there is somebody that has their best interest at heart,” said Jeremy Jarvis of Arthur Ridge Baptist Church.

Perhaps McConnell’s visit would have been less comforting, however, had he mentioned how he helped hold federal emergency disaster relief funds hostage in 2011 before his own state needed them. Nearly a year before the March storms hammered Kentucky, a similar outbreak battered Joplin, Missouri, and 2011 quickly became a year of unprecedented natural disasters that drained the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s budget. Republicans, led by House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), opposed emergency funds to rebuild FEMA’s coffers without finding spending offsets, and McConnell gladly went along with those plans.

“What’s at issue is whether we are going to add to the debt or not,” McConnell told CBS in September, less than a week after he voted against a measure that approved disaster funds without the partisan offsets Republicans sought. That position contradicts one held by McConnell’s former leadership colleague, ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who ignored Republicans calling for spending offsets in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. “It is right to borrow to pay for it,” DeLay said at the time.