Congress adds to Irene damage

Published 1:42 am Sunday, September 25, 2011

It has been four weeks since Hurricane Irene tore a path of destruction through eastern North Carolina and many of our neighbors are still feeling the effects.
To date, FEMA has approved $17.7 million in assistance for 26,477 individuals and households who have registered for help. That total includes 3,170 victims in Beaufort County. Many are still in need.
Apparently the severity of destruction is lost on elected leaders in Washington, D.C., who continue to act like obstinate school children on a playground.
Another government shutdown looms at midnight this Friday, and politicians are playing politics with disaster aid and budget cuts. It’s the same game they played with a partial government shutdown in April and the debt-ceiling crisis in July.
In a party-line vote Friday, the Republican House approved a bill that would have kept the government running and also provided aid for victims of hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters. The poison pill was the attached $1.6 billion in spending cuts to two loan programs that finance technological development and create jobs.
The Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it. They plan to vote Monday on a Democratic bill that would not require spending offsets to release new money for the FEMA.
Senate Republicans plan a filibuster.
Gov. Bev Perdue, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent a letter to Congress this week asking them to put politics aside on disaster assistance.
“Federal assistance for the victims of storms and floods should be beyond politics,” the letter concluded. “Within 10 days of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed and the President signed over $60 billion in aid for the Gulf Coast. It’s been 28 days since Irene and Lee started battering our states. We urge this Congress to move swiftly to ensure that disaster aid through FEMA and other federal programs is sufficient to start rebuilding now.”
Speaking on behalf of storm victims, we couldn’t agree more.