Partisan politics may hinder FEMA funding
Efforts to guarantee money is set aside for FEMA disaster relief for the fiscal year that starts next month appear to be turning into a partisan fight on Capitol Hill.
A bill that would earmark $6.9 billion dollars for disaster relief failed to get enough votes to move forward in the U.S. Senate Tuesday, with Republican North Carolina Senator Richard Burr voting against and Democratic Senator Kay Hagan voting in favor.
Following an attempted filibuster by Republicans Wednesday, the bill, which is also tied to renewed sanctions against the country of Burma, eventually got the required 60 votes to move forward in the Senate.
Wednesday, before the bill passed, Burr sent a statement exclusively to The Outer Banks Voice:
“We have been assured that funding for FEMA disaster relief will be included in the continuing resolution – the bill that will continue funding the federal government — that is currently being debated in the House, and it will be accompanied with offsets so that we can provide aid to those who need it without increasing our national debt.
“The bill proposed in the Senate by Majority Leader Reid this week spends several billion dollars more than President Obama requested to fund disaster recovery and lacks the offsets needed to meet the fiscal challenges of our country.”
A $1 billion injection of funds for disaster relief from a continuing resolution that would keep the federal government operating past Sept. 30 was introduced in the House Wednesday.
Hagan countered the argument by Burr and other Republicans during a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
“In the Budget Control Act passed in early August, we included a mechanism of supplemental funding for emergency purposes,” Hagan said.
“I’m comfortable that this additional funding will not take us out of line with the fiscal discipline,” Hagan added. “We’re going directly by the book, and by the law put in place.”
North Carolina’s price tag for Hurricane Irene currently tops $125 million for both individuals and local governments.
Governor Bev Perdue pledged last week the state would pick up 25-percent of the cost from a rainy day fund of 300-million dollars set aside for disasters.
Hagan pointed out Wednesday that she wants the federal government should also have a similar plan to North Carolina’s to respond to disasters.
“I’m looking at a way to create a similar federal fund,” Hagan said. “So victims of natural disasters can really be focused on recovery, and not politics.”
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