Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) on Thursday morning defended his vote against legislation funding aid for Hurricane Sandy and argued that past disaster recoveries show that aid for the Hurricane Harvey response should come in stages.
Burgess is one of several Republican members of Congress who voted against an aid bill for Hurricane Sandy who will now have to advocate for funding to address disaster in their own state. These members have been forced to square their votes against Sandy Aid with their current push to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Defending his vote against Sandy aid earlier this week, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) argued that the Sandy aide package was bloated. Several lawmakers have run with that defense, though fact-checks have found that the provisions in the Sandy aid package were in fact for the most part related to damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Burgess said on CNN Thursday morning that he felt it was a mistake for Congress to draw up large aid packages for past disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, arguing that it’s hard to predict an area’s needs right away and that some of the funding from past disasters has gone unspent.
“It’s tough. Because with Katrina we came in, did a big bill, and then another big bill and years later unfortunately found they couldn’t spend all the dollars that were sent,” the congressman told CNN. “That has been a concern of mine as well. I want to be certain that the help gets where it’s needed, when it’s needed.”
“I thought Sandy should have been broken into at least two tranches, it wasn’t. I didn’t win that argument,” he added.
Congress passed two bills following Hurricane Sandy, one passed quickly for the flood insurance program, and a larger aid package passed later on.
Burgess said that Congress should immediately pass a short-term aid bill to jumpstart the recovery from Hurricane Harvey, and then take several months to develop a long-term aid package.
“So there will be immediate help that will likely come as early as early next week,” the congressman said.