Will the once glowing reports of quick action from President Trump and the federal government fall by the wayside as the latest emergency aid request for hurricane relief (the third since August) move forward? If the immediate reactions from high ranking members of Congress from Texas are any indication, President Trump’s halo may be a bit tarnished.
As reported in Roll Call, not only is the $44B amount not good enough but adding insult to injury, the White House also wants spending offsets. Now, normally, you would think that Republicans would not be bothered by that demand. Republicans are supposed to be the party of fiscal restraint, right?
What once would be considered a reasonable request, as Tea Party folks demanded during the previous administration, is now not so reasonable. Does Hurricane Sandy ring a bell? In early September, four members of the Texas delegation voted against $15.25B package meant for Hurricane Harvey and possibly Hurricane Irma relief. None live in the coastal areas of Texas. Incidentally, two of the four are not running for re-election anyway,as this article in The Washington Post explains.
GOP Reps. Joe Barton, Jeb Hensarling, Sam Johnson and Mac Thornberry all voted no on a $15.25 billion aid package Friday that is on its way to President Trump’s desk. Much of that money will boost federal emergency responders and help small businesses and homeowners rebuild. Some of it could go to victims of Hurricane Irma, which is barreling toward Florida this weekend. These lawmakers say they didn’t like what the Harvey aid was packaged with: a three-month lift of the debt ceiling to let the U.S. Treasury borrow more money and a short-term budget that basically extends last year’s budget for another three months. As usual in Washington, the hang-up sits at the nexus of money and making a political statement about money.
The second emergency funding request was for $36.5B. If the $44B request goes through, it goes to other areas in need, not just Texas. Texas leaders are not pleased, according to this piece in Roll Call.
While the offsets are likely to prove controversial, prominent Democrats and Republicans alike are already criticizing the size of the aid request. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn called it “wholly inadequate” and senior House appropriator John Culberson said it “would sabotage what has been an incredible response by President Trump to Hurricane Harvey up to this point.”
Cornyn and Culberson are both Texas Republicans. Their state’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott, last month outlined $61 billion worth of help needed for the Lone Star state.
I live in John Culberson’s district. I have many friends still misplaced from Hurricane Harvey. The wind and water are long gone but rebuilding and relocating will be a long process. Sometimes politicians have to swallow hard and vote for spending more money. This is problematic for Republicans but necessary. Puerto Rico, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Texas all experienced devastating damage from natural disasters. The spending is necessary and justified.
Karen Townsend is a guest author at Hot Air. You can read her other work at her Pondering Penguin blog. A longtime political blogger and activist, she enjoys writing about life and culture, too.