Capuano Piles On Texas Conservatives Over Sandy Relief Bill Vote, Overlooks Pork Bonanza

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U.S. Representative Michael Capuano did not waste time Monday in piling on Texas Republicans like Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn over the duo’s request for relief aid in the midst of the ongoing natural disaster currently affecting Houston and the southeast region of the state.

Capuano, a Democrat from Somerville, described the decision by Cruz, Cornyn, and seven other members of Texas’s GOP Congressional delegation to hold up a 2013 relief package targeted for states like New Jersey, victimized by Superstorm Sandy, “pure idiocy,” according to the State House News Service.

What Capuano and other Democrats may have forgotten — including a slew of Congressional Republicans from all over the country who benefitted from the emergency spending package — is how the $60 billion in Sandy relief money was allocated.

For example, $150 million went to Alaska fisheries, while $8 million went to the Homeland Security and Justice departments to buy new cars.

Capuano said he won’t use his vote to punish Texas GOP lawmakers but, according to the News Service, said he hopes they “feel shame.”

Capuano is quoted as saying:

“If they need it, the likelihood is high that they’ll get it. Now to me that’s interesting, because many of their members, including their senator, voted against the very same aid for the people who suffered under Sandy. But we’re not going to pay anybody back because of political idiocy. I hope that the people who voted no on that who come from Texas will now be ashamed of themselves.”

He also added:  “I can’t imagine we would turn our back on other Americans no matter how their representatives — some of their representatives — would have voted in the past.”

Cruz, when pressed on his no-vote, released a statement in January 2013 defending his decision:

Hurricane Sandy inflicted devastating damage on the East Coast, and Congress appropriately responded with hurricane relief. Unfortunately, cynical politicians in Washington could not resist loading up this relief bill with billions in new spending utterly unrelated to Sandy.

Emergency relief for the families who are suffering from this natural disaster should not be used as a Christmas tree for billions in unrelated spending, including projects such as Smithsonian repairs, upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes, and more funding for Head Start.

Two thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.

This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.