In January of 2013, before he became infamous for modernizing McCarthyism in the Senate halls, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed he couldn’t support aid for Sandy victims because of the “pork” and “wasteful spending” in the Disaster Relief Act of 2013.
Read the freshman Senator’s explanation for refusing aid to Sandy victims:
WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) made the following statement on the Disaster Relief Act of 2013:
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.
Emergency relief for the families who are suffering from this natural disaster should not be used as a Christmas tree for billions in unrelated spending, including projects such as Smithsonian repairs, upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes, and more funding for Head Start.
Two thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.
This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.
While it’s true that lawmakers like to use/abuse the freedom granted by “emergency funding”, it’s also ironic that, according to PolitiFact, “A big portion of the $17 billion in “immediate” assistance, more than $5 billion, went to replenish FEMA’s disaster relief fund, which may fund relief from future disasters.” PolitiFact also disagrees with some of the math Cruz repeated, “On Jan. 28, it passed H.R. 152, a separate $50.5 billion package. Of that $50.5 billion, $17 billion went toward immediate Sandy aid, while $33.5 billion was for “near- and long-term assistance and mitigation,” according to a Congressional Quarterly analysis.”
Furthermore, Rick Ungar, writing at Forbes, pointed out that the “pork” came from having to bribe red state Republicans — including Texas — in order to get the package passed over their filibuster, “However, as it turns out, the pork portions of the Senate bill were not earmarked to benefit Democratic members of the upper chamber of Congress…
The answer can be found in a quick review of the states that are set to benefit from the Senate’s extra-special benevolence—states including Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana.”
The stunning hypocrisy doesn’t end there. It probably would have been helpful if Senator Cruz were familiar with where his own state fell on the FEMA hand out chart. See, Cruz represents the state with the most FEMA-declared disasters since the start of 2009, according to an iWatch News analysis. “The top two states, Texas and Oklahoma, combined for more than a quarter of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s declared disasters since Jan. 1, 2009.”
Here they are in order:
New Mexico, 13
New York, 11
For all of Republicans’ bluster about the evil fed and how they want to secede and how everyone should be like them, and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, it’s instructive to recall Gov. Perry’s outraged condemnation at being left to his own devices after fires swept across Texas, “It is not only the obligation of the federal government, but its responsibility under law to help its citizens in times of emergency.” And now, Perry is desperately gloaming onto Big Daddy President Obama, going so far as to finally admit that the President is a Christian.
No Republican ever manages to tell us where that money is supposed to come from if we don’t collect revenue, instead they claim offsets should be found before the relief is doled out — unless, of course, it’s their state under seige.
Cut to April of 2013. Texas needs federal aid because they don’t do such a great job of regulating and overseeing businesses or zoning, apparently. So when a fertilizer plant that had once been allowed to operat without a pollution permit for several years blew up and impacted a nearby school and nursing home, the devastating damage was more than Texas could cope with alone.
Sen. Cruz will visit West on Friday. He finally issued a statement from the Capitol, “We are in very close touch with officials on the ground and we’re monitoring the tragic accident closely. It’s truly horrific and we are working to ensure that all available resources are marshaled to deal with the horrific loss of life and suffering that we’ve seen.”
All available resources? Wait a minute, hoss. If Senator Cruz is really in DC to “save this country”, his prinicples will hold steadfast, and he will hold up relief for his state until offsetting cuts are found. Or at the very least, offer millions in “pork” to blue states in order to avoid a filibuster.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.