Faced with growing criticism Tuesday, including from members of his own party, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) appeared to soften, slightly, his general view that federal disaster relief should be offset with equal or greater budget cuts.
Read More →
He told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, that relief funds would not get bogged down in the sort of protracted budget fight that has dominated Congressional politics all year. His spokesman Brad Dayspring, in a statement to several reporters, echoed this. "People and families affected by these disasters will certainly get what they need from their federal government," he said. "The goal should be to find ways to pay for what is needed or to find offsets whenever possible, that is the responsible thing to do. Clearly when disasters and emergencies happen, people expect their government to treat them as national priorities and respond properly. People also expect their government to spend their dollars wisely, and to make efforts to prioritize and save when possible."
That will come as welcome news to victims and FEMA alike, if it turns out that they need Congress to pass emergency legislation in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
Mark Merritt, a former senior FEMA official in the Clinton administration said these kinds of budget impasses can be a big drag in a disaster management situation.