On Friday, the House of Representatives finally, a full two months after the fact, voted to greenlight nearly $10 billion in relief funds for victims of Superstorm Sandy. (Katrina funds were approved 10 days after the fact.) More specifically, the House voted to extend the debt ceiling on FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program by $10 billion, the first installment of a projected $60.4 billion relief package.
And not a moment too soon.
The fund, which is the primary disburser of federal relief money to individual disaster victims, is currently $20 billion in the hole and to date, only 35,000 of the 140,000 Sandy-related flood insurance claims have been processed, according to FEMA.
You would think, or at least hope, the House vote would’ve been unanimous, and yet the final tally was 354-67—with all the “no” votes coming from Republicans. Out of those 67, there are (at least) 10 that deserve dishonorable mention for going above and beyond the call of duty in their pitiless pursuit of cutthroat partisanship, not to mention their jaw-droppingly shameless hypocrisy and an appalling disregard for the abject suffering of tens of thousands of American citizens. They are, in particular order:
1. PAUL RYAN (R-WI)
In a statement explaining his “no” vote, the would-be vice president of the United States insists he’s “committed to quickly meeting the needs of the communities affected by the storm” but he simply could not bring himself to vote for a package larded with so much wasteful pork.
“The Senate bill is packed with funding for unrelated items such as commercial fisheries in American Samoa and roof repair of museums in Washington, D.C.,” he said. “We need to ensure the necessary resources are provided in response to true emergency needs.”
None of of those projects were in the final version of the bill the House voted on Friday. How could the Chairman of the House Budget Committee not know that? He is either lying or voting against legislation he hasn’t even bothered to read. In which case he’s incompetent.
2. MO BROOKS (R-AL)
Back in April of 2011, when Alabama was ravaged by a swarm of deadly tornadoes, Brooks had no problem with federal assistance and even held town-hall meetings to explain to constituents their “federal assistance rights.”
“Some of it is in the form of loans, SBA longterm, low-interest loans, but there are also direct grants that you do not have to repay if you qualify, unemployment compensation, rents as you try to find a new place to live,” said Brooks.
Wait, I thought government was the problem not the solution.
3. PAUL BROUN (R-GA)
When Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008, Rep. Broun called him a “Marxist” and compared him to Hitler. But the following year, when widespread flooding in the American South resulted in 17 federal disaster declarations in Georgia, Broun had no problem asking the Obama administration for FEMA funds, and even complimented the administration’s responsiveness.
“I applaud the excellent job of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s [...] response to last week’s destructive storms,” he declared in a press release posted to his website. “I am pleased by the cooperation of the federal, state, and local officials … ” [emphasis mine]
4. SAM GRAVES (R-MO)
Back in 2011, when the rain-swollen Mississippi River flooded vast stretches of Missouri, Graves demanded—and received—a federal emergency declaration from the Obama White House. “I urge the President to approve this assistance without delay,” Graves wrote in a letter to President Obama posted to his website. “Many communities along the river have been stretched to the limit preparing for and fighting this unprecedented flood.”
Gee, that last part sure sounds familiar.
5. KENNY MARCHANT (R-TX)
Back in 2005, Marchant did not hesitate to vote “yes” on a disaster supplemental package that provided $51.8 billion in emergency funds to aid the Katrina relief effort. Unlike with Katrina, there are no Sandy victim intake centers in his district. So fuck ‘em.
Also, back then the President was
6. JOE “YOU LIE!” Wilson (R-SC)
Wilson, along with two other Tea Party asshats from South Carolina, voted “Fuck No!” on Friday, this despite the fact that South Carolina has had 13 major disaster declarations and two emergency declarations in the last 30 years, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The worst storm to ever hit the Palmetto State, Hurricane Hugo back in 1989, caused over $13 billion in damage and left nearly 60,000 people homeless.
Guess who picked up the tab?
And back in 2003 when South Carolina suffered through a severe drought, all 46 counties in the Palmetto State were declared federal disaster zones at Wilson’s urging. In 2005, he voted for a $10.5 billion Katrina relief package.
“The compassion, generosity, and solidarity of the American people during difficult times are one of our most cherished blessings as citizens of our great nation,” Wilson said after the Katrina relief bill passed the House. “As we now face the severity of this historic natural disaster, Americans must do what we do best: help each other.” [emphasis mine]
That was then and this is now. And now the President is
black a Democrat.
7. LOUIE “GOMER” GOHMERT (R-TX)
It’s curious that Gohmert has become such a disaster relief hardass in the last four years. Back in 2008, in the wake of Hurricane Ike, the federal government couldn’t spend enough on his constituents. After applying for and receiving individual assistance FEMA funds for four Texas counties, Gohmert went back to the public trough for more, urging FEMA to widen the number of counties in his district that qualified for relief.
8. STEVEN PALAZZO (R-MS)
Palazzo’s “Hell no!” vote on Superstorm Sandy relief comes just six months after he bragged to constituents that he had secured federal relief in the wake of Hurricane Isaac. “Congressman Steven Palazzo, Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District Representative, today welcomed news that a major disaster declaration had been issued for the state of Mississippi to help communities recover from Hurricane Isaac,” reads a statement on his website.“We cannot thank the FEMA enough for their continued support.”
9. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN)
Blackburn wasn’t always the proud disaster relief miser she is today. In the wake of the 2008 Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak (87 tornadoes across five states in one day!), she was calling for FEMA to broaden the scope of disaster relief eligibility to include the heirs of storm victims. “The families of the 33 Tennesseans killed during last year’s storm experienced a great tragedy,” she declared in a press release posted to her website. “The government should not compound their loss by refusing them assistance we all know they are entitled to.”
Turns out, some entitlements are more entitled than others.
10. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA)
On his first day as a newly sworn-in congressman from Georgia, Doug Collins voted to sandbag Superstorm Sandy relief. This from a man who serves as Wing Chaplain in the 94th Airlift Wing of the United States Air Force. He would do well to re-read his Bible before the next Sandy relief bill comes up for a vote, specifically John 3:17-18:
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
And maybe he could share some of those Jesus thoughts with the other 66 Republican refuseniks who had the courage of their convictions, the strength of character and the moral clarity to say no to 140,000 families in their hour of need.