Dem Rep.: Sandy bill a ‘new level of congressional irresponsibility’

January 16, 2013

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the only Democrat to vote against a $50 billion relief package for Superstorm Sandy on Tuesday, explained his vote in an interview with The Nashville Scene:

The bill wasn’t paid for. In fact, it wasn’t even partially paid for. Congress really made no effort to pay for even a fracture of it, so it added $50 billion to the deficit. I did support last week's $9 billion, free and clear, I did support in this legislation $20-plus billion free and clear, but the extra $30 billion really should have been at least partly paid for. This is consistent with my past votes on deficits and on disaster relief. You should read the Washington Post editorial today. It’s excellent, pointing out how Congress regularly fails to handle our emergency responsibilities.

Another thing is, this isn’t any regular period in American history here. This is a period of budget crisis, literally. Because America’s been officially out of money since the first of the year. So we added to the deficit without even lifting a finger to offset the spending is pretty irresponsible at a time like this. You know, I love New England. My friends up there, if they need help, I voted for tens of billions of help, but to have the full package not even partially offset, it’s a new level of congressional spending.

...

I just tried to do the right thing for the country. Pay our bills, pay our bills on time, not load our children and grandchildren with debt. I love New England, and I voted for tens of billions free and clear for them, but you know, $50, $60 billion without even lifting a finger to pay for any of this? When America is officially out of money as of Jan. 1? It’s like whoa, we’re really tempting fate here.

Cooper was also asked why he voted against the Sandy package when he voted for a disaster relief package for Nashville following flooding in 2010:

Exactly, and those bills were at least partially paid for. Congress made an effort. This is a new level of congressional irresponsibility here. You know, I hate voting with the Republicans, but Congress has to do the right thing for the country.

And here's the Washington Post editorial Cooper refers to.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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Ed O'Keefe · January 16, 2013