As residents of Louisiana this week struggle to recover from “one of the worst floods in modern history,” there is a chance that federal aid may not be so forthcoming thanks to a trio of Bayou State Republicans, who back in 2013 voted against helping victims of another storm: Sandy.
House majority whip Rep. Steve Scalise, Rep. John Fleming, and Sen. Bill Cassidy all cast their votes against the $50.5 billion relief package because of their dogmatic adherence to austerity economics. At the time, Scalise said, “Paying for disasters and being fiscally responsible are not mutually exclusive.”
But, as Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik and others noted this week, that decision may come to haunt them.
“No one is saying that the flood-stricken communities of Louisiana don’t deserve all the assistance that the U.S. government can provide them,” Hiltzik wrote. “But so did the residents of the Sandy zone. How do the lawmakers’ 2013 votes to deny relief to those Northeast communities square with their demand for emergency flood assistance now?”
All three signed onto a letter sent to President Barack Obama earlier this month calling for a disaster declaration and requesting “that vital federal resources be made available in an expedited manner.”
Though that aid has already been appropriated, the damages are extensive and will likely require supplemental funding from Congress.
“That extra money is going to be needed to cover costs that aren’t met by insurance and to provide for other needs, such as providing vouchers to contractors who can gut houses,” The Advocate‘s Jeff Adelson reports. “But its availability is dependent on the willingness of lawmakers to go along with the plan, something that’s hardly a sure thing.”
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