The Federal Emergency Management Agency denied disaster relief assistance to Franklin and Johnson Jefferson counties following tornadoes in late May. The state department of emergency management has appealed the decision. According to KARK, FEMA did not offer an explanation as to why they denied help. The areas affected by the storms fall in Republican Rep. Steve Womack’s district. Womack has been critical of federal spending so far, at one time telling the Times, in a story about federal funding of a bike trail project in northwest Arkansas, “Programs must be cut. Dependency on the federal government has to stop. The spending path we are on is not sustainable.” The trail was eventually funded.

However, when asked about FEMA’s decision to deny funding, Womack had this to say:


“The denial of federal assistance by FEMA is under appeal by the state. I spoke with Governor Beebe on Saturday and expressed my concern for FEMA’s decision and pledged the full support of my office in assisting in this appeal. I do not have sufficient information to opine on the basis for FEMA’s decision, but it is obviously flawed. The impact of these storms—particularly on Denning and Etna—was catastrophic. It is hard to imagine what more these communities would have to experience to qualify for assistance.”

Womack’s remarks are likely welcomed by Franklin and Johnson County residents who have heard Republican Party leaders like Eric Cantor say disaster relief should be withheld from towns like Joplin, Mo., until corresponding budget cuts were made.