Update: Due to redistricting, the 7th district has been changed. Adairsville may now be Republican Phil Gingrey’s district, who also voted no on aid to Sandy victims on Jan 15.1
Tornadoes ripped through Adairsville, Georgia (northwest of Atlanta) today, killing at least one person according to authorities and leaving major damage behind. The violent storm forced officials to shut down a 10-mile stretch of I-75.
Watch here via NBC News:
Sadly, the Republican Congressman who currently represents that district, Phil Gingrey, voted against Sandy aid as did the Republican who represented that district until recent redistricting, Robert Woodall (GA-7, Adairsville). Woodall is on record as voting against aid for Hurricane Sandy victims. He explained this in a newsletter, writing, “(W)e almost always serve one another better locally than we do with a check from Washington, D.C.”
Woodall’s position when it was another region that was hit was that all aid must be offset by spending cuts:
This week, the House had the tough job of appropriating disaster relief funds to the states affected to the point of devastation by Hurricane Sandy. I absolutely believe we should help our neighbors in their time of need. That said, we almost always serve one another better locally than we do with a check from Washington, D.C. America’s generosity during natural disasters by giving to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and more, is unmatched. In those rare instances of such widespread devastation that federal aid is required, we must provide that aid by reducing spending on other lower priorities, not by running up the debt burden on future generations. This is why I supported measures to ensure that any emergency funding was fully offset by other spending cuts. These offset measures did not pass the House, unfortunately, and instead, the total package of Sandy relief legislation grew nearly three-fold–from $17 billion to over $60 billion in new deficit spending– and was passed over my objection. You can read the bill, H.R. 152, by clicking here .
I offered to support an across-the-board cut of all federal spending that Georgia receives–a sacrifice for our community–so that we could use the money to help our neighbors in New York and New Jersey. We do make those sacrifices for one another in America, and it makes us better as a nation. Unfortunately, the New York and New Jersey delegations turned that offer down. They wanted all of the $60 billion, and they didn’t want to find a penny of it through spending cuts. That is wrong for America. I am glad that families affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey will get the help that they need, but I am very disappointed with the way it happened. If we can’t come together as a nation to reduce spending in low-priority areas so that we can prioritize families who lost everything after the storm, I have low expectations for those same members of Congress coming together to make the much bigger cuts that we need to make in order to stop the deficits and restore the economy.
Woodall even generously offered to make cuts to Georgia to help Sandy victims. The only problem with that gesture is how could he have know whether or not Georgia would need that money? It never seems to occur to Republicans that those who went before them may have had a reason for decisions they made. It turns out Georgia might need that money now, and more to boot. This is not the first year that tornadoes have damaged Georgia.
Let us hope that both Gingrey and Woodall have a rethink now that it’s their district that might need federal aid. It is obviously too much to ask of certain Republicans that they exercise compassion for others; the most we can hope for is that when disaster hits them, they are bright enough to put two and two together.
This doesn’t seem likely, though, since Woodall is on the record in March of 2011 urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to designate any eligible counties as “Secretarial Disaster Areas.”
Woodall is correct that Americans pull together at times like this, and red or blue, our thoughts are with those suffering. I’m sure the victims of Sandy don’t begrudge Woodall’s district getting the help they might need from the federal government in a timely manner. If only Sandy victims had been treated in the same way by the many House Republicans who opposed Sandy aid.