Eric Cantor: Don’t Borrow From Japan to Aid Japan

Eric Cantor (R-VA) pushed aside criticism on Monday that GOP budget cuts would compromise America’s ability to detect a Japan-style tsunami and help allies like Japan with their own disasters.

The president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization warned last week that the Republican House’s spending plan would cut funding for NOAA by $450 million from President Obama’s proposed budget, potentially requiring furloughs at tsunami watch centers. Cantor was asked at his weekly press briefing about the funding as well as cuts to USAID, which provides relief to disaster areas.

“I mean, essentially what you’re saying is go borrow from the Japanese so we can go and spend it to help the Japanese,” Cantor told reporters.Cantor noted that funding for NOAA has increased dramatically in recent years, from $3.9 billion in 2008 up to $4.48 billion in 2010 and $5.5 billion in the president’s most recent budget request. So even after the GOP cuts the funds would remain significantly above the 2008 spending levels Republicans have pledged for the overall non-defense discretionary budget.

“Again, we’ve all got to do more with less here,” Cantor said.

He added that “the president has indicated that we are ready to respond to our ally in Japan if they need us.”

Asked about whether he was concerned about nuclear power in the wake of the ongoing crisis at a plant in Japan, Cantor said that while government should draw lessons from the situation, nuclear power was an “essential” part of America’s energy future.