Much of Arkansas was ravaged by heavy flooding last month, so farmers and ranchers were relieved last week when U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack designated 23 eastern Arkansas counties as disaster areas. The designation makes agriculture producers in the affected areas eligible for emergency financial assistance from the federal government.
Not surprisingly, Arkansas’ political leaders, including Senate hopeful Rep. Tom Cotton (R), applauded the Obama administration’s announcement. “I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s quick approval of Governor Beebe’s disaster declaration request for the 23 impacted counties,” Cotton said in a press release. “I have heard from many farmers about the impact of the recent flooding, and I look forward to working with our friends in Arkansas to make sure farmers are able to access the emergency funds they need.”
The problem, as Alex Lazar reported, is that Cotton opposed the disaster aid, which was included in the farm bill the congressman voted to kill.
“It takes a special kind of arrogance for Congressman Cotton to take credit for disaster relief funds that he consistently and recklessly opposed,” Pryor campaign spokesman Erik Dorey said.“If Congressman Cotton wants credit for disaster recovery programs he voted against, he first needs to admit he was wrong when he opposed the Farm Bill and apologize to Arkansas’s farmers and ranchers for siding with his out-of-state billionaire buddies against our state’s rural economy,” Dorey added.
Cotton recently defended his opposition to the farm bill, arguing that it should have, among other things, done more to treat food-stamp recipients as possible drug addicts.
Of the four House Republicans from Arkansas’ delegation, Cotton was the only one to oppose the farm bill – a vote that continues to dog his Senate campaign.
What’s more this isn’t the first time Cotton’s approach to disaster aid has caused him trouble.
Last year, the far-right congressman was the only member of the Arkansas delegation to vote against emergency aid to Hurricane Sandy victims. Cotton said at the time he didn’t “think Arkansas needs to bail out the Northeast.”
A couple of months ago, Cotton’s campaign team removed statements about the vote from the Republican lawmaker’s website. Aides said it was routine website “maintenance.”