The House GOP had already been tarred for adjourning New Year’s Day without taking up the Senate’s pork-laden Sandy relief bill, and a vote today on a $9.7 billion flood insurance package didn’t do much to help the Republicans’ image. One particularly high-profile representative who voted no today has been singled out for his stand against the bill.
Disaster relief is supposed to be non-partisan, you see. And even though today’s vote was dedicated to funding for flood insurance, with a second vote on the fattier portions of the bill set for Jan. 15, Ryan issued a statement explaining that the money just isn’t there.
Today’s legislation concerns the National Flood Insurance Program, a program $20 billion in debt and in desperate need of reform. The GAO has said that, in the future, NFIP may need to borrow money just to meet its interest payments. This legislation proposes to increase the program’s borrowing authority by $9.7 billion. It would be irresponsible to raise an insolvent program’s debt ceiling without making the necessary reforms.
Likewise, CBO projects that nearly half of the money in the bill won’t be spent until 2014 or beyond. In fact, some of the new spending would be for claims unrelated to Hurricane Sandy. In a time of crisis, we must ensure that every dollar we spend is on those who need it. President Obama and Congress owe the people of New York and New Jersey better.
This is not the time for ensuring that dollars are spent where they’re needed, it seems. Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who lashed out against the House GOP Wednesday for delaying the vote, had to admit that a “clean” bill was needed as soon as possible. Others, like Virginia’s Rep. Jim Moran, took Ryan’s vote — which was clearly in the minority — as “indicative narrow-minded mean-spirited attitude that so many people in the Republican majority in the House believe in today.” No surprise there, coming from Moran. But Ryan, already under fire from many conservatives for his “better than nothing” vote on the fiscal cliff deal, is taking the brunt of the criticism.
We already knew the media would try to destroy any chance Ryan had of rising to the top of the Republican party, but his recent votes have made that vision even more remote to members of both parties.