Lame Duck

Will Republicans Oppose Disaster Relief Funds After Hurricane Sandy?

Eleanor Clift on whether the GOP will fight against giving more funds to the hardest-hit states.

If you expect Congress to take some action in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, guess again.

A Democratic congressional aide says it’s unlikely the Hill will do so in the lame-duck session on one of the most damaging storms in modern history. Congress funded FEMA earlier in the year as part of a supplemental money bill, so the agency should have enough in the bank to deal with Sandy—for now.

The caveat, of course, is that damage assessments are just getting under way in the hardest-hit states, and more funds may be needed.

The congressional aide dismissed talk about the politics of disaster relief. “The last thing that Americans who suffered this devastation and are trying to rebuild their lives want to see is a political fight,” he said. “If more funds are needed, Congress should come together and act in a bipartisan fashion.”

Republicans opposed disaster relief that wasn’t paid for after Hurricane Irene battered much of the East Coast last year. Democrats hammered them for supporting tax cuts for the wealthy without such “pay-fors.” Recognizing they were losing the public-relations wars, Republicans backed off.

If more money is needed for rebuilding efforts after Sandy, Republicans will have to decide whether this is a fight they want to wage again. A Republican leadership aide, asked if there was any discussion of a supplemental funding bill, said simply: “Not yet.”