(via Tom Coburn On Disaster Relief: Status Quo Means People ‘Don’t Have To Be Responsible’ For State)
WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) reiterated on Sunday that he won’t support additional disaster relief funding without spending cuts elsewhere — even after tornadoes ripped apart his own state last week.
“We’ve created kind of a predicate, that you don’t have to be responsible for what goes on in your state,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” while discussing the success Oklahoma has had in using state and private funds after the tornadoes.
Coburn said he doesn’t oppose any federal money going toward the state, however.
“Big storms like [Hurricane] Sandy, or like this tornado — there’s certain things that we can’t do that we need the federal government to do,” he said.
The Oklahoma senator has been consistently opposed to disaster funding without offsets, but some expected that to change in the wake of the devastation to his state. But Coburn’s office quickly confirmed after the tornado that he would not be supporting disaster aid without offsetting the spending.
“That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid],” Coburn spokesman John Hart said Monday in a statement. “He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort.”
On Thursday, Coburn responded to critics of his decision by saying they simply want to increase disaster funding so they can give it to their home states.
“It’s just typical Washington B.S.,” Coburn said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There’s $11.6 billion sitting in a bank account waiting to help people in Oklahoma … It’s a crass political game, because I was being asked these questions before we even pulled the dead people out of the rubble.”
He criticized the current system again on Sunday, saying that the way damage is calculated should be changed instead.
“It disproportionately hurts the more populous states the way we do it, the economic indicator, the economic damage indicator, the way it’s calculated,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “So a large state like New Jersey or New York is disadvantaged under the system that we have today. Then, we ought to have priorities about how we fund it, instead of borrowing the money. And then we ought to make sure the money is actually for the emergency at hand, not for four or five years later, and not allow bills to be loaded up with things that actually have nothing to do with the emergency at hand.”