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Editorial: Disaster relief shouldn’t be hostage to debate over national debt | WRAL
When it comes to disaster relief, give North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr his due for some common sense. He understands — particularly following the devastation of hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria and the destruction of the California wildfires – that Congress isn’t an ideological playpen.
It is unfortunate that his fellow Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives don’t understand it. If nine of the 10 Republicans from North Carolina had their way (Rep. Patrick McHenry voted for the aid bill), there would be no $36.5 billion package of disaster relief for those struggling to survive after the ravages of wind, rain and fire. Fortunately, these members of the House were out of step with most Republicans and every Democrat who voted 353 to 69 for the much-needed emergency assistance.
Only among the zealots North Carolina’s been sending to Washington, thanks to the illegally gerrymandered congressional districts, would you find anyone who would rather debate the national debt than lift fellow citizens out of heaps of mud, muck and ashes of natural disasters.
Be assured, there’s no one who’d suggest that Sen. Burr is a congressional big-spender. But he understands his responsibilities:
Sure, he says Congress needs to “figure out a different way to plan” for disasters. But, he also knows that the time for debate over the national debt isn’t when Americans are suffering without shelter and wondering where their next meal might come from. Holding those most in need hostage so Congress can debate ideology is cruel.
Most astonishing about the vote is that the two House members whose districts are hurricanes targets, Walter Jones of the 3rd District and David Rouzer of the 7th district opposed the relief. So did Rep. Robert Pittenger, who represents portions of Cumberland and Robeson counties, hard-hit by hurricane Matthew. He’s seen first-hand the challenges to rebuild. While the state eventually received about $1.28 billion for storm recovery, it was slow coming and many communities are still struggling to recover.
“No effort has been made to trim expenses elsewhere to help pay for the necessary disaster relief,” Pittenger said.
Not much comfort for the afflicted in that sentiment — also reflected in the votes against disaster aid by Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Richard Hudson and Mark Meadows.
Aiding people who are struggling amid disasters, particularly not of their own making, is what government should do. That is why it exists.
Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation who can’t see that clear responsibility need to find, or the voters need to force them to search, for alternative employment come November 2018.