Sen. Mark Pryor and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey will have a Capitol news conference today to talk about the importance of federal disaster assistance, then tour Arkansas communities recovering from the tornado.
It’s easy to read between these lines. New Jersey was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, Pryor’s opponent, famously voted against appropriations for Sandy aid, as well as other legislation to fully fund FEMA, from which aid flows. He insisted his Sandy votes were related to other extraneous items in the aid measure, but his record on trimming disaster spending is much longer than that.
UPDATE: Booker and Pryor went directly after Cotton’s terrible record on disaster aid funding, as Talk Business reports.
“We talk about the word ‘indivisible,’” said Booker. “Indivisible is about this idea that we stand together as a nation, especially when we are facing common threats.”
Pryor and Booker touted Cotton’s votes against five disaster relief funding bills during his first term in Congress. One bill dealt with Hurricane Sandy relief — a disaster that Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey — dealt with firsthand. Pryor supported the measure.
“Partisanship drops away in times of crisis,” Booker said. “I wanted to stand down here with Mark Pryor the way he stood with me.”
Cotton defended his votes on the disaster relief noting that several of the bills contained additional pork barrel spending and would raise the national debt.
“Like all Americans, I offer my prayers and sympathy to our fellow citizens when they fall victim to natural disasters, which is why I support annual FEMA funding and the traditional disaster-aid process,” said Cotton in a post press conference statement. “What I will not support are Washington politicians who take advantage of a terrible tragedy by larding up emergency relief packages with pork projects that aid those politicians’ re-election campaigns instead of aiding storm victims.”
Pryor said Cotton was simply rationalizing and on this issue he’s right. Alone among Arkansans Cotton went with extremist budget philosophy. He’s happy to strangle government including the part that provides service in times of need.
Please look again at Cotton’s votes and quotes on the subject. Particularly this:
Cotton Was The Only One From His Delegation To Oppose $9.7 Billion FEMA-ONLY Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill. The Pine Bluff Commercial reported: “Rep. Tom Cotton , R-Dardanelle, voted Friday against legislation that would ensure the federal government has the money to pay flood insurance claims resulting from Hurricane Sandy. Cotton was one of 67 House Republicans to oppose the measure allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to borrow $9.7 billion to cover damage claims from the storm that ravaged New York, New Jersey and Connecticut two months ago. Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted in favor of the bill. The Senate swiftly approved it by voice vote – with no objections.”