FEMA Almost Out Of Money Due To Multiple Disasters, While Cantor Plays Politics With Disaster Funds

You want to see a revolution, Rep. Cantor? Just keep it up, you little twerp:

WASHINGTON -- As East Coasters brace for what some say will be a historic pummel by Hurricane Irene, at least one lawmaker is fuming over a requirement by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that any potential emergency disaster aid be offset by spending cuts.

"It is sinful to require us to cut somewhere ... in order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens," Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told The Huffington Post on Friday.

The Louisiana Democrat pointed out that this weekend is the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his district and cost the federal government more than $100 billion. That recovery effort would have been delayed "by years" if Congress had required the same kind of spending cuts to offset aid, he said.

"I have been one who has been preparing for the hurricane, trying to give people some comfort. One thing they need to know is the federal government can come to their aid," Richmond said. "I don't think we're in a position, given the rules set up by the majority, that we're going to be able to come to their aid quickly."

Cantor raised some eyebrows on Wednesday when, in the aftermath of the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast and originated in his district, he said Congress will help those hurt by the earthquake but will require finding offsets for any federal aid.

"When there's a disaster there's an appropriate federal role and we will find the monies," Cantor said during a news conference in Mineral, Va. "But we've had discussions about these things before and those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere in order to meet the priority of the federal government's role in a situation like this."

[...]Obama didn't seek emergency aid when the country endured its last major natural disaster. Back in May, when storms ravaged the Midwest, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was able to eat the costs with funds it had set aside for such disasters. The same scuffle over requiring offsets surfaced during that fight, but then disappeared since the president never made a request.

The difference this time around is that FEMA is closer to running out of money, which makes the prospect of an emergency aid request more likely in the event of widespread destruction.

What is "scary" is how spread thin FEMA is, said a House Democratic aide familiar with disaster relief operations.

FEMA is now running relief operations "in every single state" due to a record number of disasters this year, said the aide, and the agency has been projected to run out of money by the end of September..


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