NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — As the extent of damage following Hurricane Harvey continues to grow, some New York and New Jersey lawmakers are voicing quick support behind a future recovery package despite Texas senators trying to deny Tri-State relief funds after Superstorm Sandy.
“I won’t abandon Texas the way Ted Cruz did New York,” tweeted Rep. Peter King (R-New York) on Sunday, a follow up to his previous post “Ted Cruz & Texas cohorts voted vs NY/NJ aid after Sandy but I’ll vote 4 Harvey aid. NY wont abandon Texas. 1 bad turn doesnt deserve another.”
Cruz has a long track record of drawing the New York congressman’s ire on social media, including a jab in 2016 ahead of the 2017 presidential campaigns during which Cruz mocked “New York values” and claims made about supporting New York’s firefighters and police.
According to Associated Press estimates, the federal government has — for now — enough disaster aid money to deal with the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but the ongoing storm appears sure to require a multibillion-dollar recovery package as did Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster fund currently contains about $3 billion, and top congressional aides said Monday that they have assurances from the Trump administration that it will be sufficient to deal with immediate needs such as debris removal and temporary shelter for tens of thousands of Texans displaced from their homes.
“What you’re going to see is the national government and we anticipate the Congress are going to make the resources available to see Texas through the rescue operation, through the recovery,” Vice President Mike Pence told a Houston radio station Monday.
Congress stepped forward with enormous aid packages in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012, though some GOP conservatives — including then-Indiana Rep. Pence — chaffed at the price tag. And White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who will be responsible for preparing any disaster request for President Donald Trump, opposed a 2013 Sandy aid package as a South Carolina congressman, offering a plan to cut elsewhere in the budget to pay for it.
Lawmakers provided $110 billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Katrina, thanks in part to dogged efforts by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss. The Bush administration, politically scalded by criticism over its botched response, signed off on the aid.
But New York and New Jersey lawmakers seeking help over Superstorm Sandy encountered stiffer resistance. Many Republicans opposed the full $51 billion aid package, which included a $34 billion amendment by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., that included grants for housing and other repairs patterned after the Katrina response.
Some hard feelings linger on the part of New York and New Jersey Republicans, who had to battle to win help for their Democratic-leaning states in the bitter aftermath of the 2012 election.
“Despite my TX colleagues refusal to support aid in #SouthJersey time of need, I will support emergency disaster $$ for those impacted,” Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., wrote on Twitter on Monday.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey) told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell he too will support federal aid despite his colleagues’ record on Sandy funding.
“And I’m not going to hold the people in hostage because of what they did,” he said.
Texas Republicans overwhelmingly voted against the final Sandy aid bill. The state’s two senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, opposed the aid package along with more than 20 House Republicans representing Texas.
Now, many of them are citing additional spending contained in initial drafts of the legislation as the reason.
“They had funding for things as far away from Alaska that wasn’t even touched by Sandy,” said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), whose district is hard hit by Harvey. “That was not a vote against disaster relief. That was a vote against pork-barrel spending.”
Pascrell said he hopes President Donald Trump will not try to pinch pennies.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)