Subscribe

Bloomberg View: Congress can stop bickering, help hurricane victims

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Subscribe

This editorial is from Bloomberg View:

There’s a bit of good news amid the deluge that has devastated Houston: Congress looks likely to help out its victims without much fuss.

Providing relief to victims of natural disasters was once a fairly noncontroversial function of government. Every state recognized that it would need such help at some point. Petty politics were typically set aside in times of tragedy, and basic decency argued for helping those in need.

That broad consensus changed — or seemed to — after Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc along the East Coast in 2012, at the eventual cost of $75 billion. For months, Congress delayed an emergency relief measure, leaving victims in limbo. When the main aid package finally did come up for a vote, it passed amid fierce opposition from Republicans in unaffected states.

They objected to spending in the bill that they considered wasteful or unrelated to the storm, including outlays for some preventative measures and aid for victims of previous disasters. Some insisted on commensurate cuts elsewhere in the budget — an unprecedented demand for such a bill.

Texas Republicans — including Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn — were among the most vocal opponents of the relief package. In the end, all but one Republican member of the state’s House delegation voted against it. Thankfully, as Texas now faces its own epic tragedy, their colleagues from other states seem to be in a forgiving mood.

“Ted Cruz & Texas cohorts voted vs NY/NJ aid after Sandy, but I’ll vote 4 Harvey aid,” Rep. Peter King, R-New York, wrote, passive-aggressively, on Twitter. “NY won’t abandon Texas. 1 bad turn doesn’t deserve another.”

That’s the right sentiment.

In addition to the grim human toll, much of the city may need to be rebuilt. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reckons that 450,000 people may need help. Costs could eventually exceed $100 billion. The truth is that severe storms like Harvey are likely to become more common in the next few decades, and disasters of that magnitude can only be navigated with federal help. Congress should of course be prudent in dispensing that assistance. But it should also remember that the U.S. is a rich country and can afford to help people in need. Unfortunately, there may well be a lot of them in the years ahead.

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine