It’s taken far longer than it should have, but federal aid for areas affected by Hurricane Sandy is finally on the way.
The Senate Monday night passed a $50.5 billion emergency spending bill to aid people in New York and New Jersey who are trying to rebuild their homes and businesses after last October’s devastation from super-storm Sandy.
The vote was 62 to 36, with 60 votes needed for passage.
The vote came nearly two weeks after the House approved an identical measure, and sends the bill to the White House for President Obama’s signature.
But before we move on, it’s worth pausing to note the partisan split on Sandy relief – in the Senate, 36 Senate Republicans, including members representing coastal states like Florida, Texas, Alabama, and the Carolinas, voted against the federal aid. Or put another way, 80% of Senate Republicans opposed post-Sandy relief.
In the House, we saw roughly the same outcome – 78% of House Republicans voted against the emergency assistance.
What we’re seeing, in other words, is a fundamental shift in how GOP policymakers respond to communities struggling after a natural disaster.
For generations, these votes were not politicized or considered particularly controversial – Americans could count on their elected representatives to step up if a natural disaster struck. It wasn’t partisan and it wasn’t ideological; this is just what the country did. It was a reflection of who we are.
And those days are over. As the Sandy votes demonstrate, it is now effectively the standard position of congressional Republicans to reject disaster relief unless the funding is offset by other spending cuts. So long, compassionate conservatism, we hardly knew you.