There is no denying that Texas needs disaster relief funds. But Texas lawmakers need to be held accountable for their past votes.
When Hurricane Sandy struck the Atlantic Coast in 2012, 233 people were killed and $75 billion worth of damage was caused.
Though 24 states were affected, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York were especially hit hard. Naturally, the American people expected Congress to do the right thing and pass an aid package to help these states recover and rebuild.
But Republicans, especially Texas Republicans, fiercely opposed the bills, whining that they would add to the deficit. They even insisted that such spending be offset with cuts across the board. In the end, the relief funds were passed, but it angered lawmakers from these states who felt that Republicans played politics in the midst of a crisis.
Keep in mind that these same Republicans often cry about how Americans aren’t coming together or uniting. But they had the gall to let the Mid-Atlantic states drown in the name of deficit reduction.
Now the chickens have come home to roost as Hurricane Harvey and massive flooding slammed Texas last week and those same Republicans who voted against disaster relief for states affected by Hurricane Sandy are now begging for billions of dollars in disaster relief funding for their own state.
And they think their past votes should not be held against them.
During an interview on CNN Saturday, Rep. Randy Weber argued that it was perfectly acceptable to vote against Sandy relief funds in 2012, but that Texas should definitely get disaster relief funds now without delay.
“Hurricane Sandy was $60 billion and Katrina was $120 billion just to give people a point of reference here,” Victor Blackwell began. “Let me ask you about your vote, which I’m sure you’ve discussed before, but I don’t want ask about your vote against the Superstorm Sandy package. I want to ask you about an amendment. In 2013, you voted to tie the spending to an offset to a 1.63 percent discretionary spending across the board — spending to the $17 billion that was going to the people in New York and New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, the people who needed it most.”
In other words, Texas Republicans held Sandy victims hostage in order to slash funding of important government programs.
But Weber all of sudden thinks that now is not the time to discuss cuts across the board in exchange for disaster relief funds.
“There a time to have that discussion, you are looking at September the 30th looming, that will remain to be seen,” Weber said. “I’m not an appropriator, we will have that discussion with the appropriators, I certainly want to be on top of all of our spending. Do we need an offset? Any time you have an emergency in your own family, something comes up, you have to say, well I’m going to have to tighten the belt and do this and the other.”
Unsatisfied with Weber’s dodging, Blackwell asked again, this time more directly.
“Do you think — or should in this case — there should be an offset for the people of Texas who now need billions of dollars?” Blackwell asked.
Weber again danced around the question, clearly caught being a total hypocrite. So Blackwell asked him if his vote against Sandy relief was a “principled vote.”
When Blackwell defined it as Weber believing that emergency funds should be offset by cuts to pay for it, Weber appeared to suggest that it’s only okay to offset such funding when disasters strike anywhere else except Texas.
“Well, whenever possible. But both you and I know there are times when it is not possible. We have to be extremely, extremely cautious and do everything we can to tighten our belt when we need to.”
Here’s the video via YouTube.
Texas Republicans should have to pay a price for the votes they cast against emergency relief funding. They should have to publicly apologize for their past votes and resign in disgrace. Contrary to what they believe, Texas is not the only state in America. Other states go through natural disasters as well. The 49 other states that make up this nation should not have to worry about not getting help just because Texas lawmakers think that only their state matters. That being said, these Texas lawmakers have often excused cuts to government programs by saying that people should pick themselves up by their own bootstraps. Maybe it’s time to let Texas practice what their lawmakers preach.
And the next time a region in this country needs help, Texas lawmakers will be more compassionate because they will understand what the consequences are if they are not.
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