As the residents of Moore, Okla. are still trying to make sense of the massive EF-5 tornado that ravaged their city on Monday, several Republican Senators are calling for any emergency aid the federal government might provide to be offset with matching budget cuts, including Sen. Ron Johnson.
“We should be able to find plenty of areas in the budget to offset that,” said Mr. Johnson, a tea-party backed lawmaker from Wisconsin. “I would vote against a bill that didn’t include offsets.”
Normally disaster aid is treated as emergency supplemental appropriations without too much concern about the impacts it would have on the budget. Sidenote: emergency supplemental appropriations is how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were paid for as a way to keep them off the budget during President George W. Bush’s time in office.
This isn’t the first time Johnson has opposed emergency aid without matching offsets. In January, Johnson voted against a $50 billion aid package for victims of Superstorm Sandy because the bill didn’t include matching budget cuts.
Johnson was also a part of the Republican filibuster of $7 billion Hurricane Irene relief in September 2011. Ultimately Democrats were able to secure enough votes to break the filibuster.
However, when it comes to disaster aid for Wisconsin, Johnson doesn’t seem to care if it is offset. In March 2011 he signed onto a letter with a majority of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation asking Pres. Barack Obama to provide disaster relief after a series of heavy snowfalls stretched local budgets:
“Many of the local governments in these areas have exhausted their snow removal budgets and are in need of supplemental federal assistance. Together, these counties estimate they will need more than $9.5 million in public assistance to recoup some of these costs.”
The Wall Street Journal reported the Federal Emergency Management Agency has more than $11 billion left in its budget for disaster relief this fiscal year, and it’s not known whether a bill will be needed.