Texas Republicans are up in arms over the small size of President Trump’s package. His storm relief package that is.
The White House requested an additional $44 billion in disaster relief from Congress yesterday to cover the costs of repairing the devastation caused by the unprecedented series of major hurricanes that most affected Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands this year.
The additional allocation would bring the total hurricane relief appropriations close to $100 billion. However, the Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has called the latest supplemental request “completely inadequate,” according to a report in The Dallas Morning News. It’s a sentiment shared by Texan members of Congress from both parties.
Governor Abbott went even further in his comments, saying that the appropriations request “does not live up” to President Trump’s promises in the immediate wake of the disaster, and claiming that the federal government under Trump was much slower in providing relief than the Obama administration had been when Superstorm Sandy hit the NorthEast coast.
“The president has told me privately what he said publicly, and that is he wants to be the builder president. The president has said he wants this to be the best recovery from a disaster ever. Hopefully, this is only one of multiple steps along the pathway,” Abbott said.
The $44 billion allocation, which would be shared by all of the territories hit by disasters, falls far short of the $61 billion that Abbott requested for Texas alone.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate, also called the request “wholly inadequate,” an opinion echoed not just by other Texas lawmakers, but even by Democrats from Florida and New York.
Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), an appropriations committee member who represents Houston, said in a statement that Trump’s inadequate request shows a “complete lack of understanding of the fundamental needs of Texans” and said that it would be a “nightmare” for survivors of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
“Thankfully, Congress funds the government — not OMB. I will work tirelessly with my colleagues to fix this,” he said.
Texas’ other Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, was more careful in his criticism of the President’s latest initiative.
“I will carefully review OMB’s latest supplemental funding request, including its justifications for the proposed spending amounts,” he said in a statement. “However, the constitutional responsibility to appropriate funding resides with Congress, and I will continue to work closely with the entire Texas delegation to ensure our great state has the resources it needs to rebuild and come back stronger than ever.”
He added that the Trump administration needed to “keep its repeated commitments” to the state.
Lawmakers in Florida, California, and the U.S. territories affected by catastrophes are equally dismayed by the small size of the President’s largesse. However, the Republican tax plan may find the party backing itself into a corner as their scheme to provide tax cuts to their corporate donors severely limits federal revenue, increases the deficit, and leaves less money available for disaster relief.
In the end, rebuilding costs money, and unless the Republicans figure out how to fund crucial efforts to restore the communities affected (as well as how to pass environmental regulations that will mitigate the effects of the human-caused climate change that are helping trigger these new mega-storms), voters will remember who kept their promises and who simply offered up their inadequate package so that they could have money left over to give to billionaires.