With Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) insisting that funding the recovery from Hurricane Irene be offset with spending cuts, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that Congress should be focused on providing relief and not get caught up in political gridlock.“That should not be the first concern of Congress, and I don’t think it is. I think the first concern of Congress is whether we need to protect the safety and security of the people that we are all privileged to represent,” Napolitano said at roundtable with journalists hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
“Congress knows that this is historically the way disaster relief funding has been handled,” Napolitano continued. “Appropriators have been kept informed on a regular basis about the status this year.”
Napolitano cautioned against putting a figure on the cost of Irene, but said the government knows it will be pricey.
“We know that Irene is going to be a very expensive storm, that’s just the plain fact of it,” Napolitano said. “The assessments are now just being made.”
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