Congressman Goodlatte did the right thing when he joined the overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives to approve nearly $8 billion in preliminary relief for the parts of Texas and Louisiana devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
In 2005 Goodlatte joined in the almost unanimous vote for a nearly $52 billion aid package after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana, Mississippi and other parts of the Gulf Coast, and for a bill allowing the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow more money to aid Katrina victims.
But when Hurricane Sandy caused enormous damage to parts of New York and New Jersey in 2012, Goodlatte voted against a nearly $51 billion aid package and against a flood insurance measure similar to the one he approved after Katrina.
Some Republicans said they would have voted for the Sandy relief if it had been offset by spending cuts in other areas. But there were no such offsets for the Katrina relief or the Harvey relief.
According to ProPublica:
The $51.8 billion relief bill passed after Katrina and the $50.7 billion one [for Sandy relief] aren’t exactly the same. The Katrina version allocated almost all of the money to the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief, while the Sandy one directs relief money to a slew of federal agencies.
Conservatives derided some of the provisions of the Sandy bill as pork. As they point out, the bill allocates billions to dozens of federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the bill also specifies the agencies must spend the money on Sandy-related expenses.
I’d hate to think that Goodlatte’s votes were influenced by the fact that Katrina and Harvey struck Republican-leaning “red states” during Republican administrations while Sandy struck Democratic-leaning “blue states” during a Democratic administration.
Perhaps he can offer us another explanation.
Update: Goodlatte voted against a bill to provide $15.25 billion in Harvey relief, raise the debt limit and extend government funding for three months.