© Josh Sager – January 2013
After a disaster, our country pulls together and helps those who are harmed, quickly and without political game-playing—this occurs regardless of who is affected by the disaster or whether the disaster is a natural disaster or a man-made catastrophe. If a city is devastated by a hurricane or an earthquake, our federal government supplies manpower and reconstruction funds; if a city is attacked by terrorists, our federal government supplies security and support for the victims.
Unfortunately, our country’s history of supporting our fellow citizens in the aftermath of a disaster has done nothing to spur the House GOP to action in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In an unbelievable turn of events, the House GOP has refused to schedule a vote on the Senate’s $60.4 Billion aid package and could potentially cause those who were harmed by Hurricane Sandy to go without assistance for months. If the Sandy aid bill fails to pass the House by Thursday, January 3rd, it will have to be rewritten and passed during the next legislative session.
We, as a country, have become inured to the perpetual gridlock and dysfunction in our federal legislature, but this is one issue where delay is unacceptable. Those who are harmed by natural disasters are suffering for no fault of their own, and it is up to our government to help them in their time of need. A refusal to do what is needed for the victims of disaster is simply putting politics above governance and is not something which should be acceptable for any politician.
Hurricane Sandy was a devastating hurricane, both due to the power of the storm and the location where it hit. Sandy was a large and powerful hurricane which struck the population-rich eastern coast of the United States. New York and New Jersey—two of the highest population-density states—suffered from extreme storm and flood damage that requires significant funding to repair. As state governments lack the revenue streams to fund these repairs, it is up to the federal government to act and get these people back on their feet.
The outrage at the House GOP’s lack of movement on any relief package to Sandy victims is not a matter of partisan posturing by Democrats—in addition to House Democrats, Peter King (R-NY) and Chris Christie (R-NJ) have been two of the most aggressive critics of this refusal.
In a statement on January 2nd Peter King said “”I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to congressional Republicans is out of their minds.”
Chris Christie, in his usual blunt and aggressive manner, was even more critical of his party’s representatives in the House than Rep. King; Rep. Christie’s criticism of the House GOP was this: “Last night the House of Representatives failed that most basic test of public service, and they did so with callous indifference to the suffering of the people of my state.”
Disaster aid is not an issue that is appropriate for politicians to ignore or play politics with. Disasters happen everywhere—wildfires and tornadoes strike the south, hurricanes sweep up the eastern seaboard, and earthquakes damage the west coast—and our federal government should do everything it can to react to them as quickly as possible. Playing partisan games with disaster aid only serves to further victimize those harmed by natural disasters and compound the disruption in affected areas.
Come election time in 2014, I ask that everybody remember this gridlock and vote accordingly. When a disaster strikes where you live, can you risk your, and your family’s, well-being on the potential that the politicians that you sent to Washington would rather score political points then help you get back on your feet?