Kudos to Rep. Tom Rice for breaking with the rest of the state’s GOP delegation last week and supporting federal funds for Superstorm Sandy relief.
The nearly $10 billion bill approved Friday goes to the national flood insurance program to help pay claims associated with the massive storm that devastated New York, New Jersey and other parts of the Northeast. It’s a good start.
While some conservatives took issue with the spending, arguing that the federal flood insurance program is a bad idea to begin with, it would have been wrong to deny the relief. If members of Congress want to debate ending the program, that’s fine, but in the meantime, it would be callous, inappropriate and insulting to take the insurance premiums of these Northeast homeowners for years and then refuse to pay out when called upon. Rice was right to support the bill, and we only wish the others in the S.C. delegation had done the same.
A larger Sandy recovery bill, totaling more than $50 billion is scheduled to come up in the House next week, money to assist in rebuilding roads and bridges, rebuild facilities and coastlines and fund FEMA disaster relief. Republicans have rightly pointed out that some of that funding in the bill is marked for spending elsewhere in the nation, a frustrating reality to be sure. Their complaints should be heard and heeded.
Amendments to strip out such added spending are worth attempting, but if Republicans cannot muster the votes to pass the bill without such extra spending, they – and Rep. Rice – should hold their noses and support it with the money attached. Why? Because the disaster visited upon the Northeast was of such a scale that it needs the tens of billions the bill would provide to recover, even if it means spending millions to help fisheries elsewhere in the U.S. or funding a nationwide water resources study. And because, at least in the case of coastal South Carolina, there but for the grace of God go we.
If we’re hit by another Hurricane Hugo or Floyd, and eventually we will be, we will need the support of legislators from across the U.S. to fund FEMA and relief efforts in our own area. When that time comes, we don’t want those lawmakers to remind us:
I was hungry and you said you’re on your own. I was thirsty and you said it’s bad fiscal policy. I was homeless and you said, where’s the offset?