I was wondering when this would happen:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is suspending payments for some projects in tornado-ravaged Joplin because of immediate disaster needs along the East Coast after Hurricane Irene. Some spending for other storm-related and flood-related damage in other parts of the country also has been delayed.
A FEMA spokesman said Monday that the agency’s disaster fund has dipped well below $1 billion.
As a result, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said Monday the agency will not consider any new applications for what it calls permanent repair work in pre-Irene disasters.
But Missouri’s two U.S. senators are still angry over cutbacks facing Joplin.
“Recovery from hurricane damage on the East Coast must not come at the expense of Missouri’s rebuilding efforts,” said a statement from Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican. “If FEMA can’t fulfill its promise to our state because we have other disasters, that’s unacceptable.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, said she will work to make sure Joplin’s repairs are fully funded.
“FEMA should be prepared for all types of disasters and have the resources to respond rapidly and stay until the work is done,” her statement said.
Why is this happening?
Because Eric Cantor would rather see the residents of Joplin starving to death in the streets than spend a penny more on disaster relief — much less actually tax rich people to help pay for it:
Just as Republicans held the country hostage over the debt ceiling (“give us what we want, or else”), Cantor is now trying to do the same over disaster relief (some of which may be needed in his home state of Virginia, which is in Irene’s path). As his spokesperson explained, “Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”
It’s one thing to demand offsets in theory, or even at the negotiating table, quite another to do so with a major hurricane bearing down, with a natural disaster possibly at hand. It would be like if a dying man desperately needed a blood transfusion but you refused to give him any unless he gave you his house and car. (Which is actually how health care works in the U.S., but let’s not go there.)
This was Cantor’s response to the earthquake that caused significant damage along the east coast, including in Virginia, it’s his response to Irene, and it’s his response to disaster relief generally. No money unless money is cut elsewhere. In other words: Give us what we want, or else. And you can be sure he won’t agree to cuts to military spending. He just wants to cut programs he’s ideologically opposed to — relatively insignificant funding for, say, public broadcasting, or more significant funding for the poor and those who otherwise are vulnerable and need government help, like Social Security and Medicare.
Consider the message he’s sending to the people along the east coast, in Irene’s path. We’ll help you but only if we can also weaken programs that help you. You get some disaster relief, but, otherwise, screw you. That’s what this comes down to. (Virginia Gov. , a Republican, has pre-emptively declared a state of emergency. Cantor apparently doesn’t care.)