Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 2, 2013

Harsh Realities of Disaster Funding

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on January 2, 2013

It seems that the current session of Congress will adjourn without addressing the funding requirements of Superstorm Sandy recovery:

New York area-lawmakers in both parties erupted in anger late Tuesday night after learning the House Republican leadership decided to allow the current term of Congress to end without holding a vote on aid for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said he was told by the office of Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had decided to abandon a vote this session.

In remarks on the House floor, King called the decision “absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We cannot just walk away from our responsibilities.”

Representative King suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of an argument within his own political party. Without taking a position on the size of any appropriate federal appropriation of recovery funds, I’d just like to highlight a few points:

Does the base of the Republican party find itself strongly represented in the Northeast?  Probably not.  Do House members from the Midwest elected on platforms dedicated to cutting federal spending want to vote for large aid packages for New York City? Probably not. Does Representative King understand the political currents he is wading against? I would guess yes…but this is the same individual who voiced strong support for the IRA “back in the day,” but now positions himself as a premier defender against global terrorist threats.

It probably is also not a good time to remind the good member of Congress of his own words during the kerfuffle over the “Ground Zero Mosque:”

Even though a mosque is supposed to be a religious setting, ground zero may not be an appropriate spot for this or any proposed mosque, King said.

“Right at this moment in history, it’s bad form to put it there,” he said. “There are things you are allowed to do, but that aren’t appropriate to do.”

He might want to consider the facts that his fellow caucus members took those words to heart in regards to their own view of the viability of a large aid package to Sandy’s victims.

Such Congressional spending may be usually presented as a moral choice, but in reality it is always a political one.  It does not matter if King’s past and current opinions have been morally and/or politically justified, but his current lack of influence/importance for his constituents is a result of the underlying dynamics existing within his own political party.

He might even learn a valuable lesson about the negative effects of demonizing a group–whether they be Muslims or recipients of any type of federal government aid.

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Comment by John Comiskey

January 2, 2013 @ 4:44 am

Ultimately, disaster relief spending is a political matter. Little or not votes may equate to little or no aid.

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 2, 2013 @ 10:04 am

FEMA had $15B in the DRF [disaster relief fund] pre-Sandy. Note Sandy at landfall not even a CAT I hurricane and description as a hurricane incorrect and as a superstorm incorrect.

If there is a funding problem then FEMA can just deb

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 2, 2013 @ 10:16 am


FEMA can deobligate from open disaster declarations unspent funding including much from Hurricane Katrina.

My guess is up to #10-12B could be captured that way almost immediately.

Also would you be surprised to learn that 95% of all DFR outlays since May 1974 when the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 [Public Law 93-288] and non-profits providing community services became elgible for federal disaster relief has never been audited in any fashion by GAO, FEMA OIG, DHS OIG, and nor have FEMA contractors been audited. One reason of course is that Mission Assignments to OFA’s come under the jurisdiction of their respective OIG’s and many FEMA contractors cannot be audited by OIG/DHS because they are audited by the almost completely corrupt DCAA [defense contract audit agency]!

Still disaster outlays give the taxpayer something for his/her money unlike some federal programs, functions, and activities.

So don’t cry for me Argentina!

Andof course the largest beneficiary of federal funds for disasters, including the NFIP is the property and casualty insurance sector. Also largely unaudited.

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 4, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

Looks like the first bill to become law in the 113th Congress will be a $9.5B supplemental to rebuild the NFIP [national flood insurance program] funding!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

January 11, 2013 @ 11:11 pm

Until we truly demand an audited FEMA and any monies thereto related, the continued abuse will certainly continue….and for the record, given the corruptive ways of these “beltway thieves” on both side of the aisle, we are beyond bankrupted financially….we have comprmised our integrity in so many ways and apparently we continue to enable government to impose itself in so many ways….how unfortunate! Fools!

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