Victims in Oklahoma Can't Afford To Wait
It's Congress' duty to provide immediate disaster aid to Oklahoma tornado victims
May 23, 2013
One of the federal government's chief responsibilities is helping people in need when disaster strikes. I saw this all firsthand as Superstorm Sandy devastated my Congressional district, which includes a large portion of the Jersey Shore. Thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed, and we are just at the start of the rebuilding process.
Along with colleagues from the Sandy-affected states, I pushed for a robust aid package to help New Jersey recover and rebuild from this historic storm. But many Republicans in Congress insisted that the aid package be offset by cutting spending to other programs to pay for it, and, unfortunately, this led to the aid package taking over three months to be signed into law, while devastated homeowners and businesses waited for help. In the end, 180 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted no on the Sandy aid package.
This opposition by Republicans in the House of Representatives was inexcusable. The victims of the tragedy in Oklahoma do not deserve to suffer those kinds of stall tactics. Congress must stand together and pass a bipartisan relief plan for Oklahoma as soon as possible. When Americans are harmed by massive disasters, Congress has always stepped in to provide aid right away without a protracted debate on spending.
It is also disingenuous for Republicans to insist on offsets for disaster aid when most voted multiple times in favor of funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without offsets. I agree that we must reduce our country's deficit, but it is inappropriate and wrong to insert that debate into the conversation about providing financial aid to the families of Moore, Oklahoma dealing with this incredible tragedy.
Politics has no place in this discussion. This is not a time for ideological debates; now is a time for action.