Anti-Sandy-relief GOP Oklahoma Senator: Aid for my state is “totally different” than Sandy

Far-right US Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) tried to explain today why it’s consistent for him to oppose the federal government paying for Hurricane Sandy disaster relief in New England, but why the government should pay for tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma.

After all, New Englanders don’t vote in Oklahoma.

No, Inhofe didn’t actually say that.  He tried to argue that Hurricane Sandy relief was all pork, which it wasn’t.

Senator-Inhofe

Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)

Inhofe claimed that Sandy relief contained money for the Virgin Islands and to repair the roofs of homes in Washington, DC.

In fact, the Sandy relief bill contained money to repair the roofs of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC that were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

As for the Virgin Islands, the bill did permit some of the federal highway funds in the bill to be diverted to the Virgin Islands.  But that’s about it.  The “pork” in the bill was pretty small, by all accounts.  But Inhofe still voted against it.

The Atlantic walks us through more of the supposed “pork” in the bill that conservatives were complaining about:

  • $150 million for fisheries in Alaska damaged by the 2011 Japanese tsunami,which littered debris on Alaska’s shoreline
  • $41 million to repair military bases damaged by Hurricane Sandy (including ,controversially, Guantanamo Bay)
  • $13 billion for future flood preparations (that is, money that will not be spent on victims of Sandy but on preventing future, Sandy-scale disasters from occurring)

So those are all disaster relief, and disaster-related.  One, the Alaskan one, is for a past disaster that wasn’t addressed, and should have been.  So that’s not pork.  The National Review has more of the GOP argument against the bill, but to call any of what they write about “pork” is simply bs.  The closest they get to park is money preparing for the next disaster.  How is that pork in a disaster bill?

What’s going on here is that Inhofe realizes that when you’re the Senator from a state with a disaster, you really don’t have a choice but to get a disaster relief bill passed.  So he’ll do anything to differentiate his cold-heartedness towards Sandy victims with his new warmth towards tornado victims.

Oklahoma’s other stingy Republican Senator, Tom Coburn, is also in a bit of a pickle over tornado relief.  Coburn has already said that any tornado relief bill must include cuts in the rest of the budget to pay for it, or he won’t support it.  In other words, Coburn is taking Oklahoma tornado victims as human shields in the GOP’s endless war on the budget (well, endless war on everything but tax cuts for the rich and defense spending).

The only difference is that the tornado victims vote in Oklahoma.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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66 Responses to “Anti-Sandy-relief GOP Oklahoma Senator: Aid for my state is “totally different” than Sandy”

  1. bab says:

    I can’t believe people believe crap like this article. Over 20% of the Democratic senate’s Sandy relief proposal was pork and not just the cherry picked items Mr. Aravosis arbitrarily chose to list.

    Congress Piles the Pork into Hurricane Sandy Relief

    Type Size:

    By DAVID FRANCIS, The Fiscal Times

    December 19, 2012

    The millions of dollars for projects unrelated to recovery from Hurricane Sandy included in the Sandy relief act is the latest in a long line of examples of politicians using emergency spending bills to fund pet projects.

    “You’re at the end of the Congress, and there’s always an interest in attaching anything you can to bills that are going through the Capitol Hill station,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “This is one of the last trains going through the station.”

    According to an analysis by Ellis, the Sandy emergency spending package includes $150 million for fishery disaster areas in Mississippi and Alaska; $20,000 for a new car for the Inspector General of the Justice Department; $10.8 billion for the Federal Transportation Administration; and cancellation of loans related to Hurricane Katrina. It also contains $4 million for repairs at the Kennedy Space Center and $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

    The Fiscal TimesFREE Newsletter

    Every disaster is an opportunity to lard a relief bill with pork. According to Citizens Against Government Waste, hurricane Katrina was also a golden opportunity to do an end-run around appropriations.
    • $33.2 million for eight projects in the state of Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Harry Reid (D-Nev.), including: $25 million for rural Nevada; $1.5 million for Truckee Meadows; and $725,000 for Tahoe Regional Planning

    • $16.8 million for seven projects in the state of Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee member Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), including: $2.5 million for the Greenbrier River Basin; $325,000 for the Parkersburg and Vienna Riverfront Park; and $150,000 for Island Creek at Logan

    • $12.9 million for 11 projects in the state of Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), including: $5 million for central New Mexico; $250,000 for Santa Fe; and $180,000 for the Southwest Valley, Albuquerque

    The Sandy emergency spending package also contains provisions that had previously been rejected or had not yet been considered by Congress. This includes a measure that alters how the federal government manages areas prone to flooding, a bill that was rejected by the House earlier this year. Also included is the Disaster Recovery Act of 2012, a bill that had yet to be considered by a Senate committee.

    But Ellis said the pork contained in the Sandy emergency bill were modest compared to past bills. The 2007 Iraq supplemental spending package contained $21 billion in unrelated domestic spending, including $283 for the Milk Income Loss Contract Program and $400 million for rural schools. In 2000, an $11.2 billion spending plan for disaster relief in Kosovo and Columbia included $45 million to pay for a private jet for the commandant of the Coast Guard.

    According to Ellis, these pet projects are part of the horse-trading involved in the political process: in order to gain broad support, priorities eliminated during the regular budget process are included in emergency spending bills. Craig Jennings, manager of federal spending and contracting policy at OMB Watch, said this is a symptom of a broken appropriations process.

    “This is how Congress tries to get in their priorities. Ideally you want this all done through regular order and the normal appropriations process,” Jennings said. “There is no regular order anymore. We’ve been jumping from a debt ceiling crisis to government shutdown crisis to whatever crisis comes next. However it’s supposed to work isn’t working.” Jennings said partisan gridlock makes returning to a normal appropriations process impossible.

    “As long as the Republicans are willing to use extreme measures like not passing regular appropriations this is going to continue,” he said. “There’s a political stalemate that extends into the budget process. It’s hard to get anything through Congress.”

    According to Ellis, appropriation through emergency spending also robs the public of the chance to review the budget process as it occurs. It gives Congress the ability to budget without a public debate on priorities as the country sinks deeper into debt because of government spending.

    “They don’t make it easy to find this stuff. They’ll designate it all emergency, and they’re going to move quickly,” he said. “You have to know what you’re looking for to see it.”

    Ellis added that it is especially difficult to stand in the way of emergency spending packages for natural disasters.

    “There is concern for the victims of Sandy,” he said. “If you’re in the way of that, you’re a mean nasty person who doesn’t care about disaster victims.”

    Read more at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/12/19/Congress-Piles-the-Pork-into-Hurricane-Sandy-Relief.aspx#wW3s2cGI2jkqBALi.99

  2. Corey says:

    I can’t believe people still vote for scum like this dude

  3. Sal says:

    I have a list of convicted criminal politicians. The score was 146 to 143.
    That looks horrible for both parties.
    For any party member to point fingers is ridiculous.
    If it was 140 to 10… even 140 to 20

    The huge problem is we are blind to the ills of our own side while only seeing the evils of the others.

  4. Sal says:

    No!
    Many of them -Yes
    All of them no.

  5. Sal says:

    I’m sure the people who need help are not the ones who cut services to the poor.

  6. Sal says:

    It’s always different when it happens to you.

  7. karmanot says:

    True, but buying a Pillsbury store bought saves time and trouble.” Working the fat in with your fingertips is messier but far faster, I’ve found.” I have been there once. It does work very efficiently.

  8. karmanot says:

    Well, certainly Obozo is the worst POTUS since little Dubya.

  9. PrahaPartizan says:

    Not yet. Zip Federal relief should be going to OK, which is when the OK electorate reaps what it sows. The time for sympathy for the folks who elect these people has long passed. When OK voters vote to increase their taxes to rebuild Moore, which was a tiny fraction of the damage caused by Sandy, then they can ask for Federal assistance. Until then, screw’em.

  10. PrahaPartizan says:

    Mean and stupid – isn’t that the defining qualtiy of a Republican?

  11. PrahaPartizan says:

    Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben. Any attempt to make Dubya’s utter failure seem less by attacking Obama (or Carter for that matter) is blatantly absurd. Further, what increase in spending in the Sandy relief bill are you decrying? Can you even explain it? Or, are you just regurgitating pap spewed by the likes of Faux Noise?

    Besides, Congress controls the purse strings, not the President. And, the House controls the spending even more, as defined by the Constitution. Any failure related to the sequester is due primarily to the House Republicans, despite your desperate effort to lay blame elsewhere.

  12. rhallnj says:

    I’d like to see Democrats insist that the Oklahoma aid legislation contain language condemning the assholery of the Oklahoma politicians who voted against Sandy aid but demand it now. And also language pointing out that the size and strength of this tornado are consistent with effects expected from global warming. If Coburn wants offsetting cuts, let it be Midwestern farm subsidies.

  13. nicydunegev says:

    мy ғrιeɴd’ѕ ѕιѕтer-ιɴ-lαw мαĸeѕ $7З/нoυr oɴ тнe coмpυтer. ѕнe нαѕ вeeɴ wιтнoυт α joв ғor 8 мoɴтнѕ вυт lαѕт мoɴтн нer pαy cнecĸ wαѕ $14409 jυѕт worĸιɴɢ oɴ тнe coмpυтer ғor α ғew нoυrѕ. ɢo тo тнιѕ weв ѕιтe αɴd reαd мore Zap2­2­.c­o&shym&shy

  14. pappyvet says:

    Would Coburn like to see more kids thrown out of Head Start? More seniors losing Meals on Wheels? The federal deficit is shrinking faster than at any time since just after World War II, but Coburn is going to insist that someone, somewhere, must lose their federal help so Oklahoma can get it instead.Just as modern conservatism helped create categories of “deserving” and “undeserving” poor, we now apparently have deserving and undeserving disasters. When tragedy strikes, most Americans tend to want to pull together, but many Republicans look to pull us apart.

    By the way,this is the same Coburn who is infamous for saying, “It’s just a good thing I can’t pack a gun on the Senate floor.” That was right before he told his constituents that Obama likes the culture of dependency because it worked so well for him as an African American male. What a guy

  15. When making biscuits or a pie crust there are a number of ways to “cut” the butter or shortening into the flour. There’s a method using two table knives drawn in opposite directions through the mixture, crossing against one another. I’ve tried it; it’s a slow method. Working the fat in with your fingertips is messier but far faster, I’ve found.

  16. Ben Carter says:

    Holy crap even my extremely liberal friends recognize Tom Coburn as one of the few congressmen who actually is in Washington for the right reasons even if they oppose a number of his views esp. on being pro-life(he is an obstetrician after all).

    Honestly the tone of this article and the fact it glosses over the OVER $13 BILLION INCREASE IN SPENDING that the Sandy relief bill had it in. Are you freaking kidding me? Then your beta-male reporter making light that Coburn is sticking to the same principles when his own state is involved is somehow a negative? Wow talk about ZERO integrity. I guess it is good to know this site is at least 95% a liberal echo-chamber … Will avoid going forward.

    Acting like $13 BILLION is nothing is why the incredibly vain, tyrannical, clown that I guess goes by his “Christian name” of “Barack Hussein Obama” and that is currently in office is increasing our deficit at rates that are hard to even comprehend. And then when this moron’s OWN Sequester goes into effect, that same one that Obama SWORE to the American people(in the Pres. debates) would not occur if he was re-elected :jerk-off:, he literally throws a temper tantrum that any spoiled 2-year old who was just denied a piece of candy would be proud of and he then tries to make the insanely small cuts that the poor baby was forced to make occur in the most noticeable of ways.

    Seriously Obama has surpassed Andrew Jackson and Jimmy Carter as the biggest failure and THE worst leader I have ever seen even run for the office of the President of the United States. Truly the man’s ego could not handle that there was ONE news channel that did not verbally fellate him on a regular basis so he sics the DOJ after them? How petty and beneath the office that he unfortunately holds.

    Also just out of curiosity has the man EVER acted like a man? Much less a leader? Much less the POTUS and taken responsibility for ANYTHING that he did not view as fitting his ego/celebrity that he CLEARLY feels he is deserving of holding?

    I am truly disgusted that Obama is a citizen of this Country much less was elected POTUS twice by a turnout of the lowest of all info voters. Freaking ashamed of this “man”. And am enjoying ever second of his gradual yet imminent downfall. History will NOT be kind to his massive failure as he assumes the role of “Worst, by far, US President in history.”

  17. condew says:

    I think the religious right’s response would be that if they are innocent children, God won’t let them come to harm, so no need to protect them. Further, since they did come to harm, it means they were not innocent. That circular logic that always makes it the victim’s fault.

  18. Guest says:

    I say hold back the disaster relief to Oklahoma until these clowns vote to restore the funding to head start, food aid for the poor and elderly and a commitment to sound infrastructure development. This is a teaching moment about the positive role of government. If they won’t commit themselves to the common good, why should we help them? Let them solve their problems by self-reliance.

  19. j.v says:

    looks like the old fart kick himself in the teeth.

  20. zerosumgame0005 says:

    why, ganging up on those poor oppressed rich white ass…uh I mean job-creators with the facts and reality is a racist attack!

  21. Rick says:

    I say give the GOP senator from Oklahoma what they want make cuts equal to the disaster aid they will receive – like say shut down the huge army base – Fort Sill – at Lawton, Oklahoma. See how he likes that!

  22. Cletus says:

    Wait. What?

  23. zerosumgame0005 says:

    oh, I thought that was something else entirely…

  24. zerosumgame0005 says:

    Tsk, tsk, tsk you KNOW that fact-checking these types is racist!!!

  25. billylost says:

    reporters who cover the Congress laugh at this guy
    as one of the most mind-numbingly stupid people
    there – Coburn is exactly the same: mean and stupid

  26. d3clark says:

    I don’t believe that I ever really knew the definition of “craven” until I saw Republicans in action. And it’s become an even better visual over the last 5 years. They really seem to be devolving right before my eyes. Every day a new, traitorous atrocity.

  27. enpassant says:

    In fact, Moore Public school district is relatively large, encompasing a large portion of what is actually southern Oklahoma City.

  28. enpassant says:

    I don’t have the numbers. You are correct, I shouldn’t have stated that all higher income schools have safe rooms or shelters. Just the one’s I’m aware of. Moore, which I’m familar with, is a large metro area (essentially Oklahoma City) in tornado alley and the number in the Moore Public school district seems considerably higher than five and 1/2 percent…. Could be wrong.

    My point on large inequalites in funding between weathy and impoverished communites, stil stands.

  29. karmanot says:

    I always go: ++++++++

  30. karmanot says:

    And the traitors will lose again.

  31. NorthAlabama says:

    but aren’t lower capital gains tax rates, corporate tax subsidies, foreign tax shelters, and business tax loopholes all examples of redistribution of wealth, too?

    it must depend on which side is receiving the distribution, and who’s distributing…

  32. perljammer says:

    Really? All of the higher income schools have safe rooms?

    “An emergency official says Oklahoma has reinforced tornado shelters in more than 100 schools across the state, but the two that were hit by this week’s storms in suburban Oklahoma City did not have them.” (http://weather.aol.com/2013/05/21/oklahoma-schools-hit-by-tornado-had-no-safe-rooms/)

    I’m not sure what “more than 100” means, exactly. Is it 101? 1000? Both of these numbers, and an infinite quantity in addition to these, are “more than 100”. I have to guess that it means somewhere near 100

    “Oklahoma Public Schools: 1,831” (http://oklahoma.educationbug.org/public-schools/)

    So, about 5-1/2% of all the public schools have safe rooms. Are 94.5% of the schools in “poorer districts”?

  33. NorthAlabama says:

    as i said before, my heart goes out to the victims of these tornados, and they should be eligible for any assistance the federal government can provide. we have too much experience with tornados in north alabama.

    but if a senator from the state says no relief without offsets, maybe the house and senate should listen. offer to cut defense and close corporate tax subsidies, and if that isn’t good enough, vote the relief down.

    if defeated, that might just be enough for republicans around the country to sit up and take notice. and maybe, just maybe, rethink their next republican vote. if any senator had opposed disaster relief here, they would’ve been tossed out, probably by an overwhelming recall vote.

  34. Can I upvote this comment more than once? :-)

  35. GoBlue says:

    I can never remember whether it was Coburn or Imhofe who got the vapors when “Schindler’s List” was shown on network TV (“But it’s got nuuuudity!”). It doesn’t matter, though, because they’re both stupid enough to miss the real message of the movie.

  36. UncleBucky says:

    And the Civil War starts again…

  37. enpassant says:

    John, writing about it would require a bit of research. It’s an emotional issue for me, as a former employee of Moore Public Schools, I had some connection with Plaza Tower elementary. All I can tell you is that, as with the rest of the country, public school funding in Oklahoma comes from federal, state and local sources. Most is from local property taxes, which leads to large inequalites in funding between weathy and impoverished communites.

    Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, told reporters that it’s up to each jurisdiction to set priorities for which schools get limited funding for safe rooms. A definition of “limited funding” and a list of which schools have them and which don’t, might prove interesting. http://weather.aol.com/2013/05/21/oklahoma-schools-hit-by-tornado-had-no-safe-rooms/

    Also, after this incident (not like it’s the first) Rep. Dorfman is now calling for a bond to fund shelters.

  38. BeccaM says:

    Fine, let’s go ahead and have a Congressional vote on emergency relief aid for Oklahoma.

    And in the Senate version, let’s add a DOMA repeal, a ban on chained-CPI, federal subsidies for home solar panel installations, and big pile of funding for Planned Parenthood. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s resurrect ACORN.

  39. Cletus says:

    JOHN!!!! HE AND THE REST OF THE RETHUGS HAVE BEEN TOTALLY BULLSHITTING, AT LEAST (BUT NOT LIMITED TO) ABOUT SANDY RELIEF GOING TO THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AND GUAM!!!

    I did an itsy-bitsiest bit of research, and here’s what I found:

    If you look at HR 152, the Sandy Relief Bill and search for “Virgin Islands” this is all you’ll come across:

    “That the obligations for projects under this section resulting from a single natural disaster or a single catastrophic failure in a State shall not exceed $100,000,000, and the total obligations for projects under this section in any fiscal year in the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands shall not exceed $20,000,000:”

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr152/text

    Well, all that is is boiler plate warranty code from the 2011 United States Code Title 23 for the Dept of Transportation, that, I guess, has to be included in any funding bill. It doesn’t allot any aid to the Virgin Islands, it just sets limits for what can be spent on protectorates in the event money is going to be spent.

    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title23/html/USCODE-2011-title23-chap1-sec125.htm

    These scum bags know no low that is too low.

  40. Zorba says:

    Well, but of course, NP. Money for defense, most particularly for bases and defense industry in Oklahoma, but not a penny for human suffering.

  41. karmanot says:

    Beyond outrage, just unbelievable to subject children to such danger with an ideological insouciance.

  42. Naja pallida says:

    There’s an extensive list of Senator Inhofe’s earmarks on OpenSecrets… much of it is gifts to the defense industry. There’s several million in there for missile guidance systems and expanding Vance Airforce Base that I think we could easily scrap and divert the money to tornado relief.

  43. BillFromDover says:

    Of course your state is totally different, mostly in the fact that the others don’t have TWO dumb-shits for US senators

  44. karmanot says:

    Wait until one of those #4 twisters take out a Kock refinery.

  45. karmanot says:

    I’d like to see a list of Inhofe Pork projects.

  46. karmanot says:

    If the Feds cut out the Pork in Moore, just cut out Inhofe…..what a swine.

  47. ckg1 says:

    That, sir, is an insult to actual excrement.

  48. Is there anything on this online? I’d love to write about it.

  49. A_nonymoose says:

    What a piece of human excrement.

  50. BeccaM says:

    That was one of the things I was wondering about, why there wasn’t a storm shelter there at the school. Thanks to you, now we know why: They were too poor.

    I’d imagine that’s the story for just about everyone else who didn’t have a basement or storm-cellar in which they could’ve taken cover. They just couldn’t afford it.

  51. Naja pallida says:

    So, he should be suggesting which programs he supports that he wants to cut to make up for the difference, instead of expecting other state representatives to be the ones to pony up first. Nothing but a hypocritical regressive jerk, who wants to dismantle anything he doesn’t like, any way he can. Even if it means playing off the guilt of disaster relief.

  52. bkmn says:

    Dumbhofe, the climate change denier, also doesn’t know why this storm was so violent or why it stopped over this area for so long.

    I guess that for Dumbhofe and Hoburn, life in the shadow of the Koch brothers is pretty good. Damn the po’ folk.

  53. Dave of the Jungle says:

    OK isn’t.

  54. cole3244 says:

    how low do these gop scumbags have to stoop before make them pay at the ballot box, if you vote republican you are them, baggage, hatred, bigotry and all.

  55. TheOriginalLiz says:

    We all knew this was coming.

  56. GoBlue says:

    Imhofe and Coburn must be counting on the fact that so much of Oklahoma has no electricity at this moment, so their constituents can’t see them grandstanding. Then again, the Sooners did elect these bozos, so they’re reaping what they sowed.

  57. GoBlue says:

    These guys must be counting on the fact that so much of Oklahoma has no electricity, so they can’t see their senators acting like bozos.

  58. benb says:

    Please, Harry Reid, do the bill for Oklahoma and make sure Coburn’s vote is the one that makes it fail the first time.

  59. Zorba says:

    Thank you for this comment, enpassant. I did not know about Plaza Elementary and its situations.
    Although, perhaps I should not be surprised that Republicans are opposed to helping those in dire need. :-(

  60. Sean says:

    Disgusting, selfish and arrogant non-human barbarian.

  61. JoeNCA says:

    Hurricane Sandy DID hit the Virgin Islands and DID damage the roof of the Smithsonian. By the law, the money could ONLY be spent on things damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

  62. Well, you know, the lives of a handful of rednecks in flyover country are worth more than the lives of the citizens of one of the greatest cities in the country.

  63. RDnDC says:

    Only good for OK, nowhere else.

  64. enpassant says:

    I live there and this is not the only story. Plaza Towers elementary is a low income area and did not contain a safe hall or reinforced shelter as schools in Oklahoma are funded with property taxes. Sadly, this revenue is not disturbed equally throughout the state. Poorer districts, do not have the luxury of modern safe rooms and shelters which are found in all of the higher income additions. Every Republican politician in the state, including both Senators are dead set against this idea. Protecting the kids over at Plaza Towers would be a “redistribution of their wealth”.

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