Though it took far longer than it should have, Congress approved $9.7 billion on Friday for the National Flood Insurance Program, giving a boost to victims of Hurricane Sandy. In all, only 67 lawmakers opposed the relief, and in this case, all 67 were Republicans, who opposed the spending under pressure from far-right lobbying groups like the Club for Growth.
Of the 67 opponents of the bill, failed vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was easily the highest-profile member of the bunch, but TPM flagged another lawmaker whose vote against the emergency aid was even more striking.
Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), whose Mississippi district is situated on the Gulf Coast, was one of 67 Republicans on Friday to vote against a $9.7 billion relief package to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Mississippi’s Fourth Congressional District, which Palazzo has represented since 2011, includes the city of Biloxi, one of the most heavily damaged communities in the region by Hurricane Katrina. Congress quickly passed an initial $10.5 billion relief package in the immediate aftermath of Katrina in September of 2005.
Making matters slightly worse, Palazzo, about four months ago, stressed the importance of federal disaster relief for his district in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.
“Some of the counties in the fourth congressional district have been the hardest hit by Isaac,” Palazzo said in late August. “This determination comes as good news to our local communities who are dealing with the effects of the storm. We cannot thank the governor’s office and FEMA enough for their continued support.”
Hmm. It sounds an awful lot like the Mississippi congressman loves federal disaster relief, but only if it directly benefits Mississippi.
Asked for an explanation, the Republican’s office issued a statement.
“Congressman Palazzo fully supports a Sandy relief package that includes spending offsets. On the heels of a fiscal cliff deal that added $4 trillion to our existing $16 trillion national debt, we must ensure that disaster relief is paid for. He also hopes we will be able to have a much-needed national discussion on disaster relief reform in the coming days.”
First, mandating “offsets” in the wake of a natural disaster is a new development, that didn’t apply when it was Palazzo’s district that was slammed. Second, the bipartisan fiscal agreement does not “add $4 trillion” to the debt.
And third, it’s interesting how “disaster relief reform” is needed when New Jersey is hit, but not when it was Mississippi that needed a hand.