Email #275: “not create a picture of divisiveness”?

Your voting record on disaster relief is inconsistent. While you voted for drought relief emergency crop assistance, as well as Hurricane Katrina aid and flood insurance, you later opposed similar relief packages after Hurricane Sandy.

In January 2013, after an unfortunate two-month delay, the Senate unanimously passed a $9.7 billion package to pay insurance claims from Hurricane Sandy. But when the measure came before the House, you were one of only 67 Representatives to oppose it. You were joined by your current Speaker, Rep. Ryan, as well as eight GOP Representative from Texas who now support relief for the victims of Hurricane Harvey in their home state. You also voted against the larger $50.7 billion Sandy relief package—despite the Katrina relief package having an almost identical price tag.

It is unclear why you voted to aid Katrina victims but to not aid Sandy victims. Were your calculations political rather than fiscal? Did you support Katrina aid to support President Bush and oppose Sandy aid to oppose President Obama?

Although Treasury Secretary Mnuchin had said the current relief package to aid victim of Hurricane Harvey should be linked to the contentious issue of the nation’s borrowing limit, the President disagreed. On Wednesday, the Senate passed by 80 to 17 a $15.25 billion disaster aid bill to help the victims of Harvey. The bill will also raise the federal borrowing limit and avoid a threatened government shutdown until December, removing politics from the aid process.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell explained: “The president agreed with Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi to do a three-month and a debt ceiling into December, and that’s what I will be offering, based on the president’s decision, to the bill. The president can speak for himself, but his feeling was that we needed to come together to not create a picture of divisiveness at a time of genuine national crisis.”

Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, GOP Senator Cochran, also supported the bipartisan move: “The legislation before the Senate would address the nation’s most pressing needs. The serious nature of the natural disasters and fiscal commitments before us demand the Senate and House act without delay. We need to act to support the victims, volunteers and first responders on the ground.”

Since your vote seems to be linked to party affiliation rather than the needs of victims, I assume you were already prepared to vote for any package that the President approved. Still, I urge you to act quickly in approving this bipartisan aid package.

Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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