The White House last week requested $60 billion in federal disaster relief to rebuild the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, but some Republicans are again threatening to hold disaster relief funding hostage unless it is offset by other budget cuts.
A day after Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) called disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy “wasteful spending,” Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Steve King (R-IA), Raul Labrador (R-ID), and Jeff Landry (R-LA), all from the more conservative wing of the House GOP, told The Hill that they will demand offsets for disaster spending:
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), who sits on the Appropriations Committee, said she will need to see offsets on Wednesday as did Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho).
“We have these emergencies every year and we should prepare for that in our budget,” Labrador said.
“No pun intended, we should have a rainy day fund,” Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) rebuked conservative members of his caucus for demanding spending cuts for disaster relief. “It is right to borrow to pay for it,” he said. But since the GOP took over the House in 2010, it has routinely made such demands. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) promised to block disaster funding in the wake of tornadoes that devastated Missouri, an earthquake that hit his own state, and Hurricane Irene.
House Republicans also cut disaster relief funding in a 2011 spending measure and cut it this year to preserve military spending. The GOP also reneged on a deal it struck with Democrats to make emergency disaster relief funding easier in the future.
Politico reports that other Republicans, like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), want spending offsets for disaster relief:
“This country can’t continue spending money that they don’t have,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). “So rather than go borrow the money, we ought to say, ‘What’s a lower priority than helping the people of Sandy?’ And that’s how we ought to do it.”
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) told Politico, “Anything needs to be offset right now.” And Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) added, “If you look at what we’ve pushed for in the past, it’s to properly fund for disasters and when we fund for disasters, we also control spending in other places. We can’t give up our desire to control spending on any front.”