In an interview yesterday with ThinkProgress, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said that “people will die” from Republican cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s tsunami tracking system and other disaster response agencies. DeFazio represents Oregon’s 4th district, where the tsunami devastated a local harbor and swept more than four people out to sea. DeFazio told ThinkProgress that furloughs at NOAA and other cuts to “our defense” against natural disasters were “crazy stuff” that would weaken the federal government’s already outdated disaster response system:
If you cut on detection of tidal waves, volcanic eruptions, severe weather events, weather buoys, satellite observation and weather patterns, those sorts of things, people will die. People will die from tornadoes in the Northwest, hurricanes or volcanic eruption or earthquakes. They are also cutting on preparedness funds that go down to the local organization down to the cities and counties, down to the first responders who need equipment.
The three-week continuing resolution, passed Tuesday by the House, includes cuts to NOAA, FEMA, the US Geological Service. NOAA employees have said the cuts will damage their “ability to upgrade tsunami models and will put considerable stress on watchstanders ability to react.” Yet Republican lawmakers have defended the cuts: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has said there is simply no money to fund the programs and Rep. Scott King (R-IA) warned yesterday that “we often over-react to natural disasters.”