Texas Republicans may have to change their tune about the federal government now that Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc in their state. An emergency aid package is yet to surface, but Congress will undoubtedly have to approve a spending bill to help those affected by the devastation.
Now the question will be whether that money will be countered by cuts to other government programs or whether outside spending will be attached to the package. As it stands now, no Texas Republican has expressed a condition for their support of an emergency aid package. But when the disaster was far away in the north east because of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, all but one Texas Republican in Congress voted against a $50.5 billion package to help the people of New York and New Jersey. Rep. John Culberson was the lone Texas vote for the measure.
The Texas delegation usually speaks with one voice, and they have very little push back from their constituency when the vote is for government spending in other states. Many Republicans took issue with what they perceived as unrelated spending in helping the victims of Sandy.
According to an analysis of the emergency aid given for Sandy compiled by CQ, the bill included $16 billion for community development programs, $11.5 billion for FEMA’s disaster relief fund, $10.9 billion for transportation system repairs, $5.4 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects, $800 million for social service programs, and; $826 million for repairs to national parks and facilities.
In 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) railed against the “unrelated spending, including projects such as Smithsonian repairs, upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric airplanes, and more funding for Head Start.” On Monday, when Cruz was asked about voting against Sandy aid in 2013 but now aggressively seeking help for Texas, he said there would be time for “political sniping” later.
“The problem with that particular bill,” Cruz said of the Sandy package on MSNBC, “is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy, and what I said then and still believe now is that it’s not right for politicians to exploit a disaster and people hurting to pay for their own political wish list.”
Even though Cruz called for a moratorium on “political sniping,” some North East Republicans couldn’t help themselves from taking a few shots at the Texas delegation on Monday. They are from New York and New Jersey after all…
Rep. Peter King, whose district encompasses parts of Long Island, tweeted that he wouldn’t “abandon Texas the way Ted Cruz did New York;” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the Texas lawmakers “hypocrites;” and Rep. Frank LoBiondo of the Garden State tweeted that despite the position of his Texas colleagues on the Sandy relief package, he would support emergency money for their constituents.
When the vote was taken in the House for the Sandy emergency relief, 23 of the 24 Texas Republicans voted against the package. Now it seems that these same lawmakers have no reservations about supporting aid for Texas.
Everyone seems to expect the Texas aid package to be tied to a bill that keeps the government operating past the September 30th deadline. Because of this, a number of Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan who opposed the Sandy bill, will be able to side step political hypocrisy in their support of Texas aid now. They will be able to explain their vote by the need to keep the government open.
Do you think the waffling on disaster relief is offset by the political agenda to keep the government open?
Credit: Huffington Post