Cruz Defends Vote Against Sandy Aid: ‘Political, Unnecessary Pork Spending’

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Amid devastating flooding in Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Monday defended his vote against disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast in 2012, calling that aid package “filled with unrelated pork.”

On Friday as Hurricane Harvey crashed into his home state, Cruz signed a letter calling on President Trump to declare the situation a “major disaster.”

In an interview Monday, MSNBC’s Katy Tur asked Cruz about the difference.

“There is time for political sniping later,” Cruz said, before Tur interrupted him. 

“It’s not really political sniping, senator,” she said. “These are people who needed money and who needed funding right after that storm, I covered those people. Many of them, just like those in Houston, lost absolutely everything they owned.”

Cruz claimed that “I and a number of others enthusiastically and emphatically supported hurricane relief for Sandy,” but he said that the bill that was ultimately signed into law had too much extraneous spending.

“Hurricane relief and disaster relief has been a vital central role for a long, long time and it should continue,” Cruz said. “The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork.”

“Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy,” he continued. “And what I said then and still believe now is that it’s not right for politicians to exploit a disaster and people who are hurting to pay for their own political wish list. Disaster relief needs to be focused on the victims of disaster relief, and I supported that for Sandy, disaster relief there, and I would support that anywhere there’s a major disaster without getting distracted by political, unnecessary pork spending.”

Cruz didn’t identify any pork spending in the Hurricane Sandy relief package, though a statement on his website from January 2013 sheds light on the claim.

At the time, Cruz asserted the bill funded “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,” the 2013 statement adds.

A few months after the Sandy relief package was signed into law despite Cruz’s vote, the senator asked for federal aid following an explosion at a Texas fertilizer factory, and again in 2015 following deadly flooding in Houston.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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