As Harvey rages, Texas senators defend votes against Sandy funding
Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — As the federal government considers how best to help Texas recover from Hurricane Harvey, Rep. Pete King, whose home state of New York was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2013, reminded his Lone Star State colleagues that some of them voted against a $51-billion aid package that year.
Ted Cruz & Texas cohorts voted vs NY/NJ aid after Sandy but I'll vote 4 Harvey aid. NY wont abandon Texas. 1 bad turn doesnt deserve another
— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) August 27, 2017
At the time, many Congressional Republicans insisted on spending cuts equal to the amount of funding allocated to Sandy. Among the 36 senators voting against the final relief package were both Texas senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
Cornyn’s press office noted that prior to his 2013 “no” vote, he supported another amendment that would have provided $24 billion in aid, minus what Cornyn’s team called “unrelated spending, which included money for things like repairing fisheries in the Pacific.”
However, Cornyn’s staff did not say whether he would seek spending cuts corresponding to Harvey relief funding if Congress votes on the relief after they return next week.
Cruz echoed the same sentiment. In a 2013 statement after the Sandy bill passed, he said the package contained what he called “billions in unrelated spending, including projects such as Smithsonian repairs, upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes, and more funding for Head Start.”
While the 2013 Sandy bill did contain funding for all those things, each agency and program pointed to problems created by the super storm that required the funding.
For example, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families noted that more than 100 Head Start and Early Head Start centers, which provide school readiness for children under 5 years old from low-income families, experienced physical damage from Superstorm Sandy. The agency said the remedies needed ranged from minor cleanup to total destruction of facilities, which prompted Head Start recipient programs to request “funds to address urgent safety and mental health issues.”
The fisheries funding cited by Cornyn’s office included $5 million “for necessary expenses related to fishery disasters during calendar year 2012 that were declared by the Secretary of Commerce as a direct result of impacts from Hurricane Sandy.”
In a statement released Monday, Cruz did not address Congress’ likely role in funding Harvey recovery efforts, nor did his press office answer ABC News’ questions about whether he would seek cuts to offset any funding allocated.
“I’m thankful for the assurances from President Trump and Vice President Pence that full federal assistance stands at the ready once we begin the recovery and rebuilding process,” he said in his statement.
Cruz was not yet in office when the Senate voted on the pared-down amendment that Cornyn supported, but his predecessor, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, did vote for it.
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