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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

by Theodoric Meyer ProPublica

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Congress passed two relief bills almost unanimously. But when it comes to Hurricane Sandy, some in Congress seem to have had a change of heart.

After Katrina, a $51.8 billion relief package passed the House of Representatives 410 to 11. Another bill, which allowed the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow more money, sailed through 416 to 0.

On Tuesday, the House passed a $50.7 billion relief package for Sandy. This time, 180 representatives voted against it — 179 Republicans, one Democrat — 56 of whom had voted for the similarly sized Katrina bill.

Another Sandy bill earlier this month also garnered opposition. That bill, almost identical to the one on the flood insurance program passed after Katrina, was opposed by 67 representatives, all Republicans.

In total, 58 representatives voted against bills this month similar to ones that they had supported after Katrina.

Here’s a breakdown of how each of them voted on the two Katrina bills and the two Sandy ones:

Robert B. Aderholt AL Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Mike D. Rogers AL Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Trent Franks AZ Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Ed Royce CA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Ken Calvert CA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Darrell Issa CA Rep. Yea Nay Didn’t Vote Yea
Gary G. Miller CA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Didn’t Vote
Dana Rohrabacher CA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
John L. Mica FL Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Jeff Miller FL Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Tom Price GA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Phil Gingrey GA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Mike Simpson ID Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Tom Latham IA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Dave Camp MI Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Candice S. Miller MI Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Fred Upton MI Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
John Kline MN Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Sam Graves MO Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Virginia Foxx NC Rep. Nay Nay Yea Nay
Howard Coble NC Rep Yea Nay Yea Yea
Walter B. Jones NC Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Patrick T. McHenry NC Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Steve Pearce NM Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Jeff Fortenberry NE Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Lee Terry NE Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Steve Chabot OH Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Pat Tiberi OH Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Greg Walden OR Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Tim Murphy PA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Joe Pitts PA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Bill Shuster PA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Joe Wilson SC Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Marsha Blackburn TN Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
John J. Duncan Jr. TN Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Jim Cooper TN Dem. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Louie Gohmert TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Kenny Marchant TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Randy Neugebauer TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
William M. Thornberry TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Michael C. Burgess TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
John Carter TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Kay Granger TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Ralph M. Hall TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Jeb Hensarling TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Sam Johnson TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Michael McCaul TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Ted Poe TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Pete Sessions TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Lamar Smith TX Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Rob Bishop UT Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Robert W. Goodlatte VA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
J. Randy Forbes VA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Doc Hastings WA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Cathy McMorris Rodgers WA Rep. Yea Nay Yea Yea
Tom Petri WI Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
Paul D. Ryan WI Rep. Yea Nay Yea Nay
F. James Sensenbrenner WI Rep. Nay Nay Yea Nay

Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives

What accounts for the legislators’ changed votes?

“The difference is the fiscal state of the country,” Jason Klindt, a spokesman for Rep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, wrote in an email explaining why Graves voted for both of the Katrina relief bills but against the ones for Hurricane Sandy. “The days of buy now and pay later are over,” he added.

Klindt said Graves would have supported the bills if they had offset the costs with spending cuts.

The $51.8 billion relief bill passed after Katrina and the $50.7 billion one that passed the House on Tuesday aren’t exactly the same. The Katrina version allocated almost all of the money to the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief, while the Sandy one directs relief money to a slew of federal agencies.

Conservatives derided some of the provisions of the Sandy bill as pork. As they point out, the bill allocates billions to dozens of federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the bill also specifies the agencies must spend the money on Sandy-related expenses.

As for the votes against the flood insurance program, the Katrina and Sandy bills were basically the same. But there is an important difference: The program has fallen at least $20 billion into the red since Katrina. And it doesn’t take in enough revenue to pay the money back.

The Katrina bill raised the limit on borrowing for the program by $2 billion — subsequent legislation increased it by billions more to cover Katrina-related losses. And the Sandy bill upped the borrowing limit by another $9.7 billion.

“We’re continually bailing out this program and it’s clear that it’s no longer solvent,” said Heather Vaughan, a spokeswoman for Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, who voted to let the flood insurance program –which insures 5.7 million homes — borrow more money in 2005 but against it this month.

“It would be irresponsible to raise an insolvent program’s debt ceiling without making the necessary reforms,” Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said in a statement after the vote this month.

How did the flood insurance program fall so deeply into debt? The short answer is Hurricane Katrina.

“The program worked well for a good number of years,” said David Maurstad, who ran the program from 2004 to 2008. Funded by annual premiums paid by homeowners, the program was self-sufficient and had even built up a reserve of about $2 billion by 2004, according to Maurstad. But it wasn’t designed to handle a catastrophic year like 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma left the program on the hook for $17.7 billion in claims. So Congress authorized the program to borrow the money to pay the claims.

But the flood insurance program didn’t have any way to repay those funds. It takes in only about $3.5 billion a year in premiums, and the claims have overwhelmed premiums in four of the last eight years.

One representative actually voted against the big Katrina relief package but in favor of the Sandy one this week: Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey. Garrett did not respond to requests for comment on the vote.

Photo credit: AP/U.S. Air Force, Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen

 

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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