The GOP Doesn’t Care About Muggles
Remember how the GOP tried to force a government shutdown over disaster relief? Remember how we had Tornado Terror! and ZOMG! Earthquake!! and Hurricane Irene LOL? And still the Republicans led by Eric Cantor and his sidekick, Great Orange Doofus bravely stood up to disaster relief?
If you don’t recall, let me refresh your memory: FEMA asked the White House for more money; President Obama, in turn, asked Congress for more money; and the Republicans were dicks about it.
Now, it seems that Republicans are pissed FEMA managed to recover enough unused funds and were able to avoid having to close shop, and are probing FEMA’s accounting practices:
Congressional Republicans haven’t gotten over the last government shutdown fight – perhaps because it wasn’t a clear win. They’re probing FEMA’s accounting practices in the last week of September, suggesting the agency manipulated its disaster relief fund to help Democrats avoid a political fight with Republicans. But FEMA officials were on the record, both publicly and in private briefings with members of both parties, about the tools they were using to keep themselves in the black through the fiscal year. So what’s this really all about?
Recall that the September government shutdown fight centered on the GOP’s demand that there should be matching budget cuts to make up for funneling emergency money to FEMA’s disaster relief fund.
Republicans are peeved that FEMA claimed to need money, but ultimately didn’t. They say it amounts to playing politics with the disaster relief fund, and exposes a flaw in the agency’s accounting method going back years.
A spokesperson for Blunt did not respond to a request for comment.
This reflects a larger disagreement about how FEMA budgets. But it’s hard to identify a scandal. The lead up to the September shutdown fight is a pretty clear matter of public record. The administration expected FEMA’s disaster fund to run dry and requested a supplemental appropriation. No doubt FEMA and the administration would have preferred Congress comply quickly and quietly rather than come so close to draining the account. But when the request became the focal point of another fight that threatened to shut down the government, FEMA stepped up the effort to buy themselves running room, and recouped enough money to stay in the black through the end of the year.
As a FEMA spokesperson explained to reporters on September 27 when the standoff ended, “Our goal has always been to extend the balance of the Disaster Relief Fund for as long as possible, while providing Congress with daily updates on the status of our fund — which continues to be fluid. While FEMA is constantly working year-round to recover unused funds from completed recovery projects, since Hurricane Irene, FEMA undertook an aggressive effort to recover any possible funds from completed recovery projects to provide critical assistance to disaster survivors and prevent the fund from lapsing. In total, FEMA recovered nearly $180 million in September, stretching funding by five additional days. Without these recoveries, FEMA would have run out of disaster funding this past Sunday and all disaster operations would have been shut down.”
I can’t stand these people.
[via Talking Points Memo]