Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Sen.Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit on April 18, 2015, in Nashua, N.H.
Photo by Jim Cole/AP

Ted Cruz adopts a new posture on disaster aid

The storms in Texas this week have caused deadly flooding, affecting communities across much of the state. According to NBC News’ latest reporting, “at least 23 people have died in flooding across the state this week.”
Given the disaster, it’s hardly surprising to see members of Texas’ congressional delegation speaking up in support of federal disaster relief. TPM reported yesterday:
“There are a series of federal statutory thresholds that have to be satisfied. Initially, it appears those thresholds are likely to be satisfied by the magnitude of the damage we’re seeing,” Cruz said while touring the flooding in Wimberley, Texas, according to Texas television station KSAT.
“Democrats and Republicans in the congressional delegation will stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations to provide the relief to help the Texans who are hurting.”
This is, of course, exactly what one expects of a senator after his state is confronted with a crisis. Indeed, note the senator’s specific phrase: “statutory obligations.” For Cruz, it’s not even optional – Americans have a duty under the law to come to Texas’ aid.
But as the TPM report added, Cruz took a very different posture in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when he opposed federal disaster relief.
“This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have,” the Texas Republican said at the time. “The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.”
As best as I can tell, he made no references to “statutory obligations” at the time.
If this seems like a familiar dynamic, it’s probably because it’s far more common than it should be.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), for example, voted against emergency aid to Hurricane Sandy victims, arguing at the time that he didn’t “think Arkansas needs to bail out the Northeast.” But last July, Cotton was quick to seek federal aid for Arkansas when it suffered severe flooding.
And in Colorado, every Republican in the state’s congressional delegation voted against post-Sandy relief, and then every Republican in the state’s congressional delegation wanted emergency funding for their own state in September 2013.

Update: I heard this morning from Brian Philips, a senior communications aide to Sen. Cruz, who said the senator’s opposition to post-Sandy aide was based on what Cruz saw as “pork” in the bill, not opposition to federal assistance itself. Cruz eventually called the federal response “appropriate.”