Republican U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz attends a Penn. campaign kickoff event held on N.Y. presidential primary night at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Penn. on April 19, 2016.
Photo by Charles Mostoller/Reuters

Texas Republicans have a new perspective on federal disaster aid

— Updated

It's hard to blame New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for blasting Texas Republican as "hypocrites." The Republican governor, reflecting on Texas GOP lawmakers' opposition to relief aid after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, hasn't forgotten how his state was treated.

"We were the disaster that was the longest, in waiting in terms of getting federal aid, and I hope that that's not what happens to the folks in Texas with Harvey," Christie said yesterday.

MSNBC Live, 08/28/17 02:11PM
Cruz Explains Harvey Aid Request Despite...
On MSNBC yesterday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Katy Tur that his vote against disaster relief four years ago was justified.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, defended his 2013 vote against a Superstorm Sandy relief bill for the New York-New Jersey area on Monday as Hurricane Harvey ravaged parts of his home state and officials turned to the federal government for support.

Cruz stood by his controversial vote when pressed in an appearance on MSNBC, saying that the aid bill for Sandy rebuilding was bloated with "unrelated pork" and "two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy."

The Washington Post ran a detailed fact-check piece on Cruz's defense, and found that the senator's argument is plainly untrue.

Nevertheless, Cruz is not alone. When it came time to approve emergency aid for areas affected by Sandy, most Senate Republicans -- including both of Texas' GOP senators -- voted against the bill. In the lower chamber, most House Republicans -- including 20 Texas Republicans -- also opposed the disaster relief.

At the time, the debate was less about excessive "pork" in the bill -- a claim we know to be wrong -- and more about Republicans balking that the costs of the bill weren't offset by other spending cuts.

With Hurricane Harvey taking a deadly toll in Texas, many of the lawmakers have a new perspective. And while that's a positive development, this keeps happening. Many South Carolina Republicans, for example, voted against Sandy aid, but adopted a different posture when their state faced an emergency. GOP lawmakers from other states had a similar change of heart when it was their constituents who needed a hand.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) suggested yesterday policymakers overhaul the way federal disaster funding works. Given the number of conservative lawmakers who only seem to support relief when it affects their state, that's probably a very good idea.