When Congress considered federal disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) voted against it. The right-wing lawmaker said at the time he didn’t “think Arkansas needs to bail out the Northeast.” Two years later, when it was his state that was hammered by flooding, Cotton reversed course, requesting and receiving emergency aid.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also voted against the Sandy-relief bill, though three years later, the Republican senator fought for federal funding for Texas in the wake of flooding.
Today, they have some company.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) “is asking for federal aid for his home state of South Carolina as it battles raging floods, but he voted to oppose similar help for New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2013,” CNN reports.Said Graham: “Let’s just get through this thing, and whatever it costs, it costs.”
Asked to explain the discrepancy – aid for his state, regardless of the price tag, but not Sandy victims – the Republican senator and presidential candidate said he doesn’t remember this part of his record. “I’m all for helping the people in New Jersey. I don’t really remember me voting that way,” Graham said.
Pressed further during a CNN interview, he added, “I don’t really recall that, but I’d be glad to look and tell you why I did vote no, if I did.”
Just so we’re clear, since Graham isn’t sure – note the use of the phrase, “if I did” – here’s the roll call on the Senate vote on Sandy aid. Graham did, in fact, vote “no.”
Indeed, a total of 36 Senate Republicans – including each of the GOP senators running for president (Graham, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul) – all voted against the disaster-relief package.
As for Graham’s explanation for his vote, I’ll gladly update this piece if/when the senator or his office explains his rationale for supporting disaster aid for South Carolina, but not New Jersey.
Update: I heard from Tom Cotton’s office who said he “opposed the disaster aid for Hurricane Sandy because it was additional, unappropriated funding. The disaster aid he requested for Arkansas was part of the disaster funding appropriated by Congress annually.”