All seven Tennessee Republican congressmen voted against the $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package approved by the U.S. House on Monday night – along with Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper of Nashville. Cooper was the only Democrat in the nation to vote not.
Stephen Hale asked him about it.
Pith: Why did you vote against the bill?
Cooper: The bill wasn’t paid for. In fact, it wasn’t even partially paid for. Congress really made no effort to pay for even a fracture of it, so it added $50 billion to the deficit. I did support last week $9 billion, free and clear, I did support in this legislation $20-plus billion free and clear, but the extra $30 billion really should have been at least partly paid for. This is consistent with my past votes on deficits and on disaster relief. You should read the Washington Post editorial today. It’s excellent, pointing out how Congress regularly fails to handle our emergency responsibilities.
Another thing is, this isn’t any regular period in American history here. This is a period of budget crisis, literally. Because America’s been officially out of money since the first of the year. So we added to the deficit without even lifting a finger to offset the spending is pretty irresponsible at a time like this. You know, I love New England. My friends up there, if they need help, I voted for tens of billions of help, but to have the full package not even partially offset, it’s a new level of congressional spending.
Note: Cooper sent out a press release statement on his vote. It’s below.
News release from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s office:
WASHINGTON – Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) issued the following statement today in response to questions about his Hurricane Sandy aid vote:
“I have great compassion for the victims of the Sandy disaster, which is why I voted ‘yes’ on the first $9.7 billion bill that passed earlier this month.
“Congress should make at least some effort to pay for a portion of disaster relief. I voted for federal aid for Nashville flood recovery in 2010, and that bill was partially paid for. So were the Hurricane Katrina bills I supported. And Hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Wilma, and Hurricane Ivan, and Hurricane Isabel. Why can’t we find even partial offsets for Sandy?
“Yesterday’s votes came during a national budget crisis while America is officially out of money.”