Pa. Republicans Split on Sandy Relief
For the most part, it’s a matter of east vs. west. Of the Republican Congressman who voted against Tuesday’s bill for Superstorm Sandy relief, just one – Rep. Joe Pitts – represents a district that is mostly east of the Susquehanna River.
The limited impact that Sandy had in Pa. was concentrated in the eastern part of the state.
The GOP delegation voted 7 to 6 against the bill. All of Pa.’s Democrats voted for it, except Rep. Allyson Schwartz who did not vote.
The bill, which appropriated $51 billion to immediate relief costs as well as long term recovery, passed the U.S. House by a margin of 241 to 180. It moved mainly on Democratic votes; Republicans opposed the bill by a margin of 179 to 49.
Those who voted ‘no’ from Pa. included Reps. Mike Kelly (R-Erie), Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny), Scott Perry (R-York), Joe Pitts (R-Chester), Keith Rothfus (R-Allegheny), Bill Shuster (R-Blair), and GT Thompson (R-Centre).
They had two primary objections: that the bill contained pork, and that its price tag was not offset by other spending cuts.
“Unfortunately, the package voted on today results in another $50 billion borrowed from our kids and grandkids,” said Rothfus. “Moving forward, I will work with my colleagues to craft better ways to budget and pay for future natural disaster relief.”
“I support immediate financial support for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but cannot support more taxpayer abuse under the guise of emergency relief,” said Thompson, whose press release also noted that the bill contained funding for items like Amtrak funding.
Perry and Rothfus had earlier voted against a smaller, provisional package of Sandy aid; the other 16 members of the Pa. delegation supported that measure.
The Sandy relief bills has provided a big test to the GOP House, which has been forced to choose between anti-spending party orthodoxy and the awful political optics of congressional inaction.
Voting ‘yea’ were Reps. Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne), Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks), Jim Gerlach (R-Chester), Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) and Pat Meehan (R-Delaware).
“I believe we need to be very careful about every dollar that our federal government spends as we are facing record deficits,” said Meehan. “While we continue our work to put our fiscal house in order, we cannot stand by while so many of our neighbors in New York and New Jersey – those areas hit the hardest – are still suffering. Many of them without homes, without jobs, and without any support.”