Republicans Held Disaster Relief Hostage Several Times In 2011

Tropical Storm Issac continues to bear down on the Gulf Coast on Monday, with the National Hurricane Center predicting that it will become a Category 1 hurricane before it makes landfall. There’s a chance that the storm will hit New Orleans nearly seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina decimated the city.

Republicans have largely canceled the first day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida, due to the storm, which swiped southern Florida yesterday. But in 2011, House Republicans displayed far less concern for the victims of natural disasters, attempting to slash funds for disaster preparedness and response, as Slate’s Dave Weigel noted at the time:

According to the House Appropriation Committee’s summary of the bill, the [GOP’s 2011 continuing resolution] funds Operations, Research and Facilities for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association with $454.3 million less than it got in FY2010; this represents a $450.3 million cut from what the president’s never-passed FY2011 budget was requesting. The National Weather Service, of course, is part of NOAA — its funding drops by $126 million. The CR also reduces funding for FEMA management by $24.3 million off of the FY2010 budget, and reduces that appropriation by $783.3 million for FEMA state and local programs.

House Republicans several times that year held disaster relief hostage, demanding that the funding be offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. The GOP pulled the same trick when Missouri was hit by a deadly tornado in May, when Virginia was affected by an earthquake, and when Hurricane Irene struck America’s east coast.


Republicans eventually struck a deal with Democrats as part of last August’s Budget Control Act that should make it easier to fund disaster relief. However, the House Republican budget reneged on that agreement, setting the stage for more disaster relief shenanigans when the country can least afford political games.