Congressman Bob Goodlatte
UPDATED: January 16: Rep. Bob Goodlatte voted against the additional $51 billion of Hurricane Sandy aid Tuesday. According to Dan Webb Goodlatte’s Political Director it was for the same reason he stated earlier – no offsetting cuts, aid would not get to those in need fast enough. Goodlatte was one of 179 Republicans who voted against it and the one of five Republican congressman from Virginia. Congressman Hurt, Griffith, Forbes, Rigell and Wittman also voted against it. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Frank Wolf voted for Sandy aid.
All three Virginia Democratic congressman voted for the aid – Scott, Moran and Connolly.
January 8: A $9.7 billion bill to pay flood insurance claims from Hurricane Sandy made its way through the House of Representatives on Friday. Though it passed easily with bipartisan support there were 67 Republicans who voted against it. Roanoke City’s Representative Bob Goodlatte was one of them and the only Virginia congressman to do so.
Goodlatte has voted against government flood insurance in the past. In 2010 he voted against a flood insurance extension bill (HR 5114) that passed the House anyway.
In an email through his Communication Director Beth Breeding, Goodlatte stated his reason for voting against the $9.7 million of Sandy aid:
“While disaster relief for areas impacted by Sandy is important, I have concerns that providing aid through this particular legislation is not the best way to help those affected by the storm. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that only half of the money in the legislation would reach those impacted this year and none of it is paid for with offsetting cuts from other areas of government spending. Congress should prioritize emergency spending so that it can spur recovery now when these communities need it most, not four years from now.”
Sandy was blamed for at least 120 deaths. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the hardest hit states suffering flooding, storm surge and high wind damage. There are over 100,000 pending flood insurance claims waiting to be paid. FEMA officials said that without the stopgap of $9.7 billion they would have run out of money by the following week and insurance checks would have ceased.
The vote for entire $60 billion of Sandy-related aid was to occur following a vote on the “fiscal cliff” compromise last Tuesday but House Speaker John Boehner pulled it to the surprise and anger of representatives of New Jersey and New York. All were hit with extensive storm damage and had already waited several months since the storm hit on October 29. It took only 10 days for President Bush to sign $60 billion in Katrina aid.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) blasted the Republican Party saying that the failure to vote on the aid bill was the result of “toxic internal politics.” Christie said, “Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress. Disaster relief was something that you didn’t play games with.”
The conservative group, Club For Growth, urged lawmakers to oppose the bill, saying that Congress should only approve Sandy aid piecemeal thereby insuring the money was spent wisely. As Rep. Goodlatte indicated any new Sandy aid should be offset with spending cuts elsewhere.
The group decried Congress telling them they should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place.
Goodlatte didn’t say whether he would vote for the additional $51 billion of Sandy-related aid. That vote is schedule to take place on January 15.