Even before Harvey's waters recede, sniping over aid

We’re sure to hear more about federal help today when President and Mrs. Trump visit two Texas cities to learn directly about the devastation and needs after Hurricane Harvey.


“I think it’ll happen very quickly,” Trump said Monday. “It’ll go very fast.”

Uh-huh, just like Obamacare repeal would start on Day One of a Trump administration and also go quite quickly, according to GOP Senate leadership. An early aid package could be attached to a temporary spending bill to prevent a government shutdown Oct. 1.

In fact, a years-long, multi-billion dollar aid effort is already re-igniting hard feelings on Capitol Hill, where hard feelings go to thrive. No one has even begun yet to estimate costs of the storm as the Trumps fly to Corpus Christi and Austin for briefings.

But officials estimate Harvey’s cost could exceed damages for Hurricane Katrina back in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012. That’s when Chris Christie shared that infamous hug with President Barack Obama touring damages in New Jersey.

The fight over federal assistance came the following year. The proposed package was $50.5 billion and it easily passed. But not before engendering vociferous opposition from — wait for it — the Texas congressional delegation that will now be seeking a similarly immense package of assistance.


Both Texas Republican senators — Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — voted against the Sandy aid, as did all but one member of the Texas delegation. Cruz explained at the time:

Hurricane Sandy inflicted devastating damage on the East Coast, and Congress appropriately responded with hurricane relief. Unfortunately, cynical politicians in Washington could not resist loading up this relief bill with billions in new spending utterly unrelated to Sandy.

What goes around Capitol Hill comes around Capitol Hill. Northeastern members of Congress call it the Comeuppance Caucus.

Even as Harvey’s rains continue, former Democrat Rep. Steve Israel said there is a “deep and lingering resentment by members of Congress who needed help in their districts when Sandy just ravaged their constituents. Ted Cruz and others led the fight against that aid, and a lot of people said there would be a day of reckoning.”

“Congressional members in Texas are hypocrites,” Christie said Monday, “Even though I’m sure there’s going to be some temptation by New Jersey House members in particular to drag their feet a little bit based upon what these folks in Texas did to us during Sandy, I’m going to be urging all our members to rise above that and provide the aid as quickly as possible.”


Asked Monday if he regretted his Sandy aid opposition, Cruz replied:

Of course not. As I said at the time, hurricane funding is a very important federal responsibility, and I would have eagerly supported funding for that. But I didn’t think it was appropriate to engage in pork-barrel spending, where two-thirds of that bill was unrelated spending that had nothing to do with Sandy.

He called the current grumbes sniping and “the silliness of Washington.”

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