Thursday, December 16, 2021

Tornado Disaster Relief Exposes GOP Hypocrisy

Earlier this week Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell tweeted his appreciation to President Biden for his “rapid approval of Kentucky’s Major Disaster Declaration.” McConnell and the entire Kentucky congressional delegation, including Sen. Rand Paul, appealed to Biden after “tornados caused significant destruction of property, dangerous road conditions, significant vegetative debris, power outages for 120,000 households in 16 counties, and severe impacts to transportation and infrastructure.”


Biden has promised Kentuckians “to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to support your state as you recover and rebuild.” 


I’m all for it in Kentucky and the other five states battered by the weekend tornados: Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi. It’s the proper and humane thing to do.


Being the cynic that I am, however, I wondered how McConnell, Paul and Republican senators from those states reacted to the upheaval wrought by Superstorm Sandy in metro New York and other Eastern Seaboard states in October 2012.


Perhaps not surprisingly, six of the nine Republican senators from the devastated states—including McConnell and Paul—cast votes against helping Easterners recover from Sandy. They and another 25 of their GOP colleagues rejected federal aid to Sandy-battered areas even though they sought funding for earlier disasters much smaller in their respective home states (https://thinkprogress.org/31-senate-republicans-opposed-sandy-relief-after-supporting-disaster-aid-for-home-states-1ea0a82683e0/).


Keep in mind that Superstorm Sandy killed 117. The economic toll was in the billions of dollars. More than 300,000 homes in New York and 350,000 in New Jersey, alone, were damaged or destroyed. 


It is another shameful example of Republican provincialism and disdain for Blue states, be they on the East Coast, West Coast or in the Northern Midwest. 


The hypocrisy of Republican ways is transparent to anyone who takes the time to monitor their actions, or who reads critical media, such as this story in The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/15/us/politics/biden-stimulus-bill-republicans.html?referringSource=articleShare).


With pundits proclaiming an inevitable Republican return to majority status in one or both chambers of Congress come 2023, it is an open question whether Democrats will emulate opposition disruptive tactics. Assuming Republicans will not have 60 or more senators, the number needed to pass cloture to end a debate, will Democrats use a filibuster threat to stymie the GOP, or will McConnell, as a resurrected majority leader, have Senate rules amended to thwart any opposition by a simple majority vote. 


I have little doubt McConnell will push for such a change to Senate rules, rules that Democrat Chuck Schumer has not been able to change to enact Biden’s agenda.

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