GOP Responds To Disasters By Slashing $1.5 Billion In Disaster Preparedness Funds

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate surveys a damaged fire station with a Joplin firefighter.

In response to the deadliest spring of climate disasters in decades, House Republicans are slashing billions from disaster preparedness programs, including support for firefighters. On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee cut the successful Department of Energy clean car manufacturing loan program by $1.5 billion to add $1 billion to disaster relief. But they also slashed other parts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security budget, including cuts of $1.5 billion from President Obama’s request for next year in firefighter assistance grants and state and local grants administered by FEMA.

During the markup, Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Steve LaTourette (R-IL) attempted to restore $460 million in funding for firefighter grants and $1.1 billion in state and local grants, but their amendment was defeated 20 to 27 by the Republican majority. Price blasted the decision to “decimate funding” for disaster preparedness:

One of the worst decisions was to decimate funding for almost every grant program for state and local preparedness. Providing a total of $1 billion for all State and Local Grants, or 65 percent below the request, and providing $350 million for Firefighter Assistance Grants, almost 50 percent below an already reduced request, breaks faith with the states and localities that depend on us as partners to secure our communities. These cuts will be doubly disruptive as many of our states and municipalities are being forced to slash their own budgets.

“In today’s environment,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) said, according to CQ, “we can’t be subsidizing local governments to the extent we have.” Rogers did not recognize that today’s environment is growing more disastrous and dangerous because of coal and oil pollution. Parts of his district were declared a federal disaster area earlier this month because of catastrophic flooding.

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