Tuesday, 30 August 2016 13:55

Louisiana GOP congressmen disaster snub and not a Pence for recovery

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penceShoe on the other foot?
    Some national media outlets are calling three Louisiana members of Congress hypocritical for asking for funds for victims of flooding in the Bayou State because they voted against aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey and other northeastern states in 2013.
    The three are U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, who was a member of the House at that time, and U.S. Reps. Steve Scalise, now House majority leader, and John Fleming, who is running for the U.S. Senate – Republicans all.

    Other Louisiana House members voted for it – Republicans Rodney Alexander, who is no longer a member of Congress, and Charles Boustany, who is running for the U.S. Senate, and Democrat Cedric Richmond.
    Over in the Senate at that time, Democrat Mary Landrieu, who is no longer there, voted for the $60 billion package as did Republican David Vitter.
    The House aid package for the northeastern states was actually divided into two parts.  The first base portion of the Sandy aid bill was $17 billion, which Cassidy, Scalise, and Fleming voted for.
    But when the remaining $33 billion was added to the package, the three voted no.  Only 38 Republicans supported the supplemental appropriation, but the bill passed the House on a 228-192 vote.
    House Republicans also introduced an amendment that would have required $17 billion in budget cuts in federal discretionary spending to offset the Sandy aid package.  It was defeated on a vote of 162-258.
    Landrieu, at the time, called the offset effort a “dangerous precedent.”  The $60 billion package in the Senate, which included $10 billion in flood insurance funds, passed with 62 votes with several Republicans opposing it.
    Fleming was the only Louisiana House member to vote against the $10 billion in supplemental Sandy flood insurance funds, which was voted on earlier than the other two parts of the aid package.
    The Louisiana aid package will obviously be in the billions, but no figure was been set.  It will be interesting to see how Republicans vote on this one.
    Fortunately, New Jersey Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell is calling on his colleagues to support aid for Louisiana.
    But he was quoted in a New Jersey newspaper a saying, “I’ll have a Jersey moment with those guys, believe me, but retribution has no place in politics.”
    That’s not all.  The Congressional delegation and Gov. John Bel Edwards are asking for another favor from the federal government.  They want the feds to consider the flood in March and the flood in August as one.
    Usually, the feds pay 75% of the cost, but they are asking them to boost its share to 90% for the flooding which took place in Louisiana this year.
    You can bet that Cassidy, Scalise, and Fleming will not be voting no with the shoe is on the other foot.

Pointing Finger at Pence

It is not surprising that Louisiana’s flood disaster would somehow work its way into presidential politics.  After all, this is Louisiana and that’s what we usually do.
    On the heels of the revelation that three Louisiana congressmen voted against aid for northeastern states after Superstorm Sandy comes the allegations about a vice presidential candidate.
    It has been reported that Mike Pence, the vice president nominee for the Republican Party, voted against aid for Louisiana and the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
    Pence was a congressman from Indiana at the time.  The Star Press newspaper in Muncie, Indiana, quoted Pence as saying: “Paying the tremendous cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina could come from entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.”
    The newspaper further quoted him as saying: “It is not acceptable to take a catastrophe of nature and turn it into a catastrophe of debt.”
    At the time, Democrats, as well as GOP Gulf Coast members of Congress, accused Pence of promoting his own political agenda rather than helping people who had lost everything.  They said he unapologetically tried to hold essential relief funding hostage so he could go after equally crucial earned benefits that millions of American seniors rely on.
    This likely won’t be the last example which will emerge as Louisiana seeks billions of dollars in federal relief for the two floods of 2016.

Lou Gehrig Burnett

Lou Gehrig Burnett is the publisher of Fax-Net, a North-Louisiana newsletter.


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