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57 Republicans Who Voted for Bush’s Katrina Aid Voted Against Obama’s Sandy Aid

| January 20, 2013

Not worth the attention of 179 congressional Republicans. (Randy Lemoine)

Not worth the attention of 179 congressional Republicans. (Randy Lemoine)

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Congress passed two relief bills almost unanimously. But when it comes to Hurricane Sandy, some in Congress seem to have had a change of heart.

After Katrina, a $51.8 billion relief packagepassed the House of Representatives 410 to 11. Another bill, which allowed the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow more money, sailed through 416 to 0.

On Tuesday, the House passed a $50.7 billion relief package for Sandy. This time, 180 representatives voted against it — 179 Republicans, one Democrat — 56 of whom had voted for the similarly sized Katrina bill.

Another Sandy bill earlier this month also garnered opposition. That bill, almost identical to the one on the flood insurance program passed after Katrina, was opposed by 67 representatives, all Republicans.

In total, 58 representatives, including Florida’s John Mica, voted against bills this month similar to ones that they had supported after Katrina.

What accounts for the legislators’ changed votes?

“The difference is the fiscal state of the country,” Jason Klindt, a spokesman for Rep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, wrote in an email explaining why Graves voted for both of the Katrina relief bills but against the ones for Hurricane Sandy. “The days of buy now and pay later are over,” he added.

Klindt said Graves would have supported the bills if they had offset the costs with spending cuts.

The $51.8 billion relief bill passed after Katrina and the $50.7 billion one that passed the House on Tuesday aren’t exactly the same. The Katrina version allocated almost all of the money to the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief, while the Sandy one directs relief money to a slew of federal agencies.

Conservatives derided some of the provisions of the Sandy bill as pork. As they point out, the bill allocates billions to dozens of federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the bill also specifies the agencies must spend the money on Sandy-related expenses.


As for the votes against the flood insurance program, the Katrina and Sandy bills were basically the same. But there is an important difference: The program has fallen at least $20 billion into the red since Katrina. And it doesn’t take in enough revenue to pay the money back.

The Katrina bill raised the limit on borrowing for the program by $2 billion — subsequent legislation increased it by billions more to cover Katrina-related losses. And the Sandy bill upped the borrowing limit by another $9.7 billion.

“We’re continually bailing out this program and it’s clear that it’s no longer solvent,” said Heather Vaughan, a spokeswoman for Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, who voted to let the flood insurance program — which insures 5.7 million homes — borrow more money in 2005 but against it this month.

“It would be irresponsible to raise an insolvent program’s debt ceiling without making the necessary reforms,” Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said in a statement after the vote this month.

How did the flood insurance program fall so deeply into debt? The short answer is Hurricane Katrina.

“The program worked well for a good number of years,” said David Maurstad, who ran the program from 2004 to 2008. Funded by annual premiums paid by homeowners, the program was self-sufficient and had even built up a reserve of about $2 billion by 2004, according to Maurstad. But it wasn’t designed to handle a catastrophic year like 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma left the program on the hook for $17.7 billion in claims. So Congress authorized the program to borrow the money to pay the claims.

But the flood insurance program didn’t have any way to repay those funds. It takes in only about $3.5 billion a year in premiums, and the claims have overwhelmed premiumsin four of the last eight years.

One representative actually voted against the big Katrina relief package but in favor of the Sandy one this week: Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey. Garrett did not respond to requests for comment on the vote.

–Theodoric Meyer, ProPublica

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13 Responses for “57 Republicans Who Voted for Bush’s Katrina Aid Voted Against Obama’s Sandy Aid”

  1. Samuel Smith says:

    http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/01/map-republicans-object-disaster-relief-unless-sandy-hit-their-state

    Here’s a map of all of the states with congressmen against, interesting how none of the gulf coastal states did so.

  2. Prescient33 says:

    The underlying problem with the aid bill, apart from the fact there is no money available to pay for it, was that while in the Democratically controlled Senate it was loaded with earmarks and pork projects that had aught to do with Sandy relief, to the level where almost 50% was going for things like fisheries in Alaska, new limousines for department heads, etc. This was done in the usual nefarious way of “Inside the Beltway,” to enable the politicos to argue that a vote against the pork laden bill was a vote against the Sandy survivors. To some extent it worked, to the shame of the media and gullible populace.

  3. Deep South says:

    Hurricane Katrina was a category 3, and Hurricane Sandy was only a category 1. Plus New Orleans is below sea level. and a entirely different topography.

  4. Sad Times says:

    It just goes to show….. Republicans care only for themselves…. to heck with the people…. same old story, unfortunately.

    And, in response to Prescient33…. don’t forget…. yes, “the pork” is inexcusable….. but, hey…. Republicans, as well as Democrats…. have always participated in this stupidity and waste…. nothing new there… on both sides.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Did the aid for Katrina also have pork in it?? I do not know But why not vote against a bill filled with $$$ we do not have . yes things like this happen all the time BUT it must stop.I think they did the Right thing by trying to get a clean aid bill.

  6. Liana G says:

    Prescient33, you said what I was going to say. Interestingly, the “chocolate” mayor from “chocolate” city (words in quote are his, not mine) has been indicted on 21 federal corruption charges going back to 2005 – bribes, kickbacks, money laundering, and a host of other charges during Katrina’s reconstruction.

    And, get this “Strong support from black voters helped Nagin win re-election in 2006 despite mounting criticism of his post-Katrina leadership. But the glacial pace of rebuilding, a surge in violent crime and the budding City Hall corruption investigation chipped away at Nagin’s popularity during his second term.” (I think “glacial pace of rebuilding” may have been deliberate to keep the poor people from returning. Similar tatics are seen here in NY along the beachside communities. Home to not-wealthy-enough people who should not be living on prime real estate land.)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/18/ray-nagin-charges_n_2505403.html

    Pierre, I know you don’t like copying and pasting but I have to do this in order to give ordinary people a sense of how corruption works in gov’t. No bid contracts and outsourcing jobs are what some of these allegations relate to.

    “The indictment alleges that, between 2005 and 2008, Nagin:

    Accepted more than $70,000 in bribes from a consultant who later won more than a dozen public works contracts with the city.

    Accepting more than $160,000 in bribes and truckloads of free granite for his family business in exchange for promoting the interests of a local businessman who secured millions of dollars in city contract work after the 2005 hurricane.

    Awarded lucrative city contracts to contractors in exchange for more than $200,000 in kickbacks and first-class trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and Las Vegas.

    Received paid lodging and vacation expenses for himself and his family in Hawaii and was flown first-class to Jamaica by a city contractor.

    Accepted a free private jet trip to Chicago and Las Vegas from another contractor.

    Enriched his New Orleans-based family granite supply company through dealings with the city.

    In 2010, Greg Meffert, a former technology official and deputy mayor under Nagin, pleaded guilty to charges he took bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering city contracts to businessman Mark St. Pierre.

    In April 2010, the Louisiana Board of Ethics charged Nagin with two possible violations of state ethics law. One charge involved Nagin’s “use of a credit card and/or gifts” from St. Pierre. In the other charge, the Ethics Board said Stone Age LLC, the Nagin family’s business, was compensated for installation services provided to Home Depot while the home improvement retailer was negotiating tax breaks from the city.

    The indictment doesn’t mention Home Depot by name but says Nagin approved a 2007 ordinance that allowed city property to be sold to an unidentified “major retail corporation” at the same time he was soliciting the retailer for work for his granite business.

    Hmm……

    • Samuel Smith says:

      So, what you’re saying is that we never should have given reconstruction money over katrina because of nagin regardless of the massive damage to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

  7. Prescient33 says:

    Sad Times-I was taught at a very early age that two wrongs do not make a right, nor does the fact that “everyone does it” make it the correct thing to do. Earmarks and pork should not be tolerated, but to burden a genuine relief bill makes the practice particularly detestable, as it was their way of profiting from the plight of the victims.

  8. rickg says:

    @Liana G All that tells me is that Louisiana politics have always been thus…. Does anyone ever consider the anount of $$$ in Defense Dept legislation as being corporate welfare or pork barrel politics?

  9. Magnolia says:

    Here is the Text of the Bill. Read it yourself and look at what’s been added to it. This isn’t happening just in Louisiana, rickg. This is your money they are stealing.

    http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=0f718f5d-c9e1-49a1-9b5a-33a313bb423d

    These are tax dollars.

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