Disaster aid offsets still popular among congressional Republicans

From Hurricane Irene-related flooding on the Eastern Seaboard to the devastating wildfires in Texas, natural disasters have loomed large in the public consciousness in recent weeks.

In this week's National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll, Republican Congressional Insiders are maintaining a nearly united front in demanding that any disaster relief funds allocated by Congress must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Some 86 percent of Republicans surveyed said they believe that any federal disaster aid allocated by Congress must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Republican members of Congress expressed concern about debts and deficits.

"We cannot afford to treat any new Washington spending differently with respect to offsetting its cost with corresponding budget cuts," said one Republican lawmaker.

"Endless borrowing will lead to a disaster," said another.

"Our national debt does not distinguish," added a third.

Some Republican respondents suggested that Washington should have been planning ahead for the possibility of disaster needs.

"Remember the work of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., on this issue," said one Republican member of Congress. "We know every year that we will have massive natural disasters and can easily budget from past expenditures."

Another agreed, saying, "We should budget it as contingency spending and, if that's not enough, cut elsewhere. That is what families do."

Democratic Congressional Insiders reacted with dismay to the idea that aid might be delayed by negotiations over spending.

"This is why the emergency designation exists," said one. "To hold aid hostage to another budget fight would be unconscionable."

"That is dumb," said another. "We pay for emergencies all the time. Why is this different? This cut, cut, cut the budget is getting out of hand."

Several Democratic Insiders expressed the opinion that the urgency of the need should outweigh spending concerns.

"It's always better to pay for the actions we take," said one Democratic member of Congress. "But in the case of suffering Americans, we shouldn't let political posturing delay the aid and support we are obligated to deliver."

Another echoed that point, saying, "It's not ideal, but we simply can't leave people hanging at a time like this."

One Republican Congressional Insider felt offsets were necessary to curb abuse of the budgeting process. "Congress has been gaming the 'emergency' bills for too long. Time to budget - and pay - for them."

But a Democratic Insider found hypocrisy in the debate, stating, "We have no problem sending billions in 'emergency funding' to fight unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with no offsets whatsoever. Why can't we do the same for our own needy Americans who have had their homes, farms, and businesses completely destroyed by flooding?"

The National Journal Congressional Insiders Poll is a regular anonymous survey of Democratic and Republican Members of Congress.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.