Indiana Reps Rokita, Stutzman oppose first round of relief for Sandy victims

Today, Congress approved the first round of relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the east coast at the end of October. The bill passed 354-67. All 67 “no” votes came from Republicans.

Indiana Republicans Todd Rokita (IN-4) and Marlin Stutzman (IN-3) were the only members of the Hoosier delegation to vote against the $9 billion flood insurance package.

Rokita took to Twitter to explain his vote:

Our $16t fiscal crisis requires we cut spending to pay for emergency expenses. Sandy bill failed to do so

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, I reluctantly opposed it,

The Wall Street Journal described this package as the “least controversial piece of a package aimed at helping the Northeast recover from superstorm Sandy.” It helps replenish the funds used by the National Flood Insurance Program to pay out claims. (Although the NFIP has its flaws and critics, it is designed to be largely funded by flood insurance premiums paid by policyholders.)

At his Indy Democrat blog, Jon Easter asks the obvious question:

I wonder if Rep. Rokita would do the same thing if a major disaster were to hit in Indiana’s 4th District. If his own constituents were standing by and waiting now over two months for Congress to act. Hopefully, he might have a different attitude.

Luckily, we live in the age of Google, and Rokita (along with Stutzman) has a record we can check.

Earlier this year, Rokita and Stutzman both had a different attitude about disaster relief. They were both signatories to a March 2012 letter from the Indiana Congressional delegation supporting Governor Daniels’ request for federal disaster assistance following the horrific tornado damage in southern Indiana.

Both Rokita and Stutzman also signed on to a letter in June 2011(PDF), supporting a “Major Disaster Area Declaration” for severe weather and flooding throughout Indiana. Rokita even provides a copy of this letter on his website, and in the attached press release, he says, “I am hopeful the President will approve the Governor’s request for disaster assistance, including for Monroe and Lawrence counties in the 4th District.”

Of course, Rokita and Stutman aren’t alone in their hypocrisy. Their fellow Sandy-relief opponent John Duncan (R-TN) requested federal disaster help for the same midwest tornado outbreak this year, just one of the many cases documented by @lawhawk over at Little Green Footballs.

CBS News reports that the House is expected to take up the second part of the Sandy relief package, totaling $51 billion, on January 15.

Update (January 5, 2013, 9:08am):

Both Rokita and Stutzman also include the same boilerplate disaster-preparedness page on their website, which includes this paragraph:

Every state is at risk for flooding and homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is a cost-effective way to prepare financially for floods. To learn more about your risk and flood insurance, visit the website of the National Flood Insurance Program.

So apparently Rokita and Stutzman think people should use the NFIP, but they just shouldn’t expect it to actually pay out in the event of a disaster.