The Sandy Funding Fail

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 2 2013 9:51 AM

The Sandy Funding Fail

Count me among the people surprised that the House recessed yesterday without doing anything on potential funding for Hurricane Sandy relief. In the building, the punt came as a surprise in two ways. One: Those not from the Northeast had developed fiscal cliff tunnel vision, and gone days without mentioning the relief package. Two: Members expected to file out of the House and go home stuck around, engaging in high-class histrionics about the failure to move on the bill.

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It was a classic Republican foul-up. Their reasons for opposing a broad Sandy relief package are twofold: They want to see it offset by cuts to less necessary spending, and they don't want any other aid to creep into it. That's a danger, always, with emergency legislation -- it becomes a Christmas tree for legislators (in Alaska, in this case) who believe their states were shortchanged in previous disaster packages. Republicans wanted to pass the $9.7 billion package for the National Flood Insurance Program, then take a green eyeshade look at what other aid was needed. And instead they just kind of forgot about it.

If this does anything for Republicans, I guess that distracting Democrats this way prevents them from spending time discussing the role of climate change in natural disasters, which we've all sort of forgotten about since November.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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