Indiana Republicans oppose relief for Hurricane Sandy victims

Todd Young (IN-9) was the only Republican member of Indiana’s Congressional delegation to vote in favor of a relief package for Hurricane Sandy victims. Only 49 Republicans in the House voted for the bill, which passed 241-180.

Indiana’s Democratic representatives Andre Carson and Pete Visclosky also voted for the bill, while Republicans Susan Brooks, Larry Bucshon, Luke Messer, Todd Rokita, Marlin Stutzman, and Jackie Walorski voted no.

Of those standing against the victims of Hurricane Sandy, only Rokita issued a statement. Rokita’s press release put on the brave spin that the Congressman had voted “to Stop $50 Billion in New Debt,” since I guess that sounds better than, “Congressman denies aid to hurricane victims.” From the press release:

“I share the compassion that all Americans have for Hurricane Sandy’s victims, and agree that we should give them assistance. But it is immoral for us to do so at the expense of future generations, when we have the ability to cut other unnecessary spending today. I supported legislation – including two amendments that I introduced – that would have allowed us to help Hurricane Sandy’s victims without passing the cost to our children and grandchildren.”

But, Republican Tom Cole (OK-4) pointed out,

No previous disaster relief bill has required offsetting spending cuts, and Cole called it “hypocritical” for lawmakers whose districts have benefited from federal aid after previous disasters to require sweeping spending cuts in order to authorize the storm aid.

“We have never done that in the past in a disaster, and we certainly shouldn’t do so now,” Cole said.

(Cole represents the 30th-most conservative district in the country (PVI +18 in 2012).)

Look, you either believe that we have an obligation to help our fellow Americans in times of crisis, or you don’t. And clearly, Todd Rokita doesn’t think we have that obligation. At best, Rokita thinks it’s merely a nice option that we could pursue if it’s not too inconvenient.

After he was criticized for being one of only 67 representatives to vote against the first part of Sandy relief, Rokita took to the pages of the Lafayette Journal and Courier to defend his decision:

Does that mean we shouldn’t help our fellow Americans? Of course not. What it means is that we must make room in our national budget for the new situation by reducing spending on what would now be less important priorities — just like we did with the budget and continuing resolutions before the fund ran dry, and just like every family would do in times of emergency.

That was last week. Yesterday, Mr. Rokita did vote against helping our fellow Americans.

I’m usually the last person in the world to credit Todd Young, but he did vote for the final bill after the amendment to “offset” the additional emergency relief was defeated. When he wasn’t able to help in exactly the way he preferred, Young stepped up to the table and took action. Rokita, on the other hand, took his ball and went home.

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