Let’s travel back in time to the last week of October in 2012. Hurricane Sandy had just ravaged the east coast, affecting 24 states and left New York and New Jersey a flooded wasteland. Shortly after losing the presidential election in the following week, Republicans, sore about their loss, were ever more determined to thwart President Obama at all costs. So when Sandy rolled into town and the President called for federal aid for the affected areas, Republican grinches grinned an evil grin and banded together to leave for recess without voting for the relief bill, castigating it as just another liberal fiscally irresponsible spending bill and bungling up $50 billion in aid for weeks. The disaster happened in October 2012, the relief bill wasn’t finalized until January 2013.
As usual, Republicans didn’t have the long game in mind. Those 179 Republicans who voted “nay” didn’t realize that playing politics with disaster relief would blow back in their faces when similar natural disasters ravaged their own states. They forgot the golden rule of Washington D.C.: Don’t vote against one guy’s district if you might need the same thing in your district.
Now, floods have severely damaged Louisiana and these Louisiana Republicans are facing the embarrassment of holding out their hands to the federal government, after having voted against the Hurricane Sandy relief bill.
Those Louisiana Republicans are House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, former Rep. Bill Cassidy who has moved up to the Senate, and Rep. John Fleming — all climate change deniers, to boot. They were among the Republicans who tried to pass riders into the bill, stripping funding from other key areas of government and who balked when asked to fully fund the relief rather than just $17 billion dollars worth that had been previously allocated for disaster relief. For the record, because the package included the $17 billion wrapped in the same bill, they voted against disaster relief that had been allotted specifically for disaster relief.
In 2013, the LA Times reports Rep. Scalise saying:
Paying for disasters and being fiscally responsible are not mutually exclusive.
But now they’re learning it’s hard to look your own now-homeless constituents in the face while talking about fiscal responsibility. Democratic colleagues tried to warn them in 2013, but they didn’t listen.
The estimated total for the damage is in the tens of billions. While FEMA will cover millions of dollars in aid to help people with necessities like water and temporary living arrangements, reconstruction will have to come from the state and the federal government. After former Republican Bobby Jindal and his anti-tax conservative state legislature depleted the state’s surplus into a $800 million budget deficit — they simply don’t have the resources to self-fund all of their efforts to rebuild.
We want Louisiana to rebuild when the flood waters recede, and we want the federal government to help, but the three Republicans who voted against Sandy Relief should be voted out when their next elections roll around. Their denial of climate change is dangerous, and they played politics with disaster relief for another state. They aren’t fit to hold office.
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images