For the record, 67 Congressmembers voted against Hurricane Sandy relief. They were all Republican. (Click here for a list. Surprise! It includes Rep. Paul Ryan – keep that in mind, wealthy GOPers in NY/NJ when he comes around fundraising for his presidential run.)
Let me remind folks, this wasn’t the full bill, this was just the part that allows FEMA to distribute more aid to owners of destroyed business owners and the like. This was about 1/6 what the region actually needs. But of course, it might not have happened at all.
Originally, Congress was supposed to vote on the bill the same day as the fiscal cliff vote. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) disgracefully had promised that he would put the Sandy relief bill to a vote and then yanked it after the fiscal cliff vote divided his members. Boehner also yelled at a concerned Republican member, “I’m not speaking with you people!” before heading off the floor.
The recent vote only happened after a massive shame campaign by Republican and Democratic officials from New York, including most notably Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island.) Rep. King went on a long, impassioned tirade about how he might leave the Republican party and said that New York and New Jersey residents should stop fundraising for the House Republicans.
He expected the political consequences would include “Republican seats in the Northeast that I think were lost last night” due to the House leadership’s move.
“There are a number of Republicans who may be able to kiss their seats goodbye because of what was done to them, not because of what they did, but what was done to them,” he said. “Because the issue is if you can’t provide the most basic assistance for your district, who needs you in Congress?”
Of course, now that Boehner held the vote, things seemed to have smoothed over. But I think that this is an object lesson for folks. The GOP does not care about blue states. In fact, if you look at the Atlantic’s map of the most numbers of Republicans who voted against hurricane relief, it’s interesting to note that some of these members hail from hurricane-prone Texas and tornado-prone states like Tennesee and Kansas. But you don’t see NY and NJ Congressmembers refusing to vote for aid for victims of natural disasters.
It’s pretty small-minded to vote against helping out victims of natural disasters because you don’t like the overall politics of the state or you don’t agree with the size of government. Frankly, natural disasters can happen anywhere. Let’s not blame the folks who are simply trying to rebuild their homes and lives.
UPDATE: Jon Stewart points out Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-Mississippi) in particular as being very biased – just last year he asked for additional FEMA funding for his constituents who are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which happened seven years ago. But he voted against additional FEMA funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy, which happened 2 months ago. And yes, people are still dealing with Sandy because no money has come through.
Stewart also points out in lovely, concise, Lewis Black fashion that there is no pork in the FEMA aid bill – the bill is 2 paragraphs on one page.