GOP Hypocrisy: Three Republicans Who Opposed Sandy Relief Want Federal Aid for AZ Wildfire

Arizona Republicans Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, and Rep. Paul Gosar all voted against emergency relief funding after SuperStorm Sandy ravaged much of the New Jersey and New York area earlier this year. Now, following an Arizona wildfire, the same trio is vocally complaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not doing enough to aid their state.

In light of sequestration and budget tightening, FEMA has limited fundingand cannot respond to every single flood, fire, and other issue that hits. Last week, the agency announced that it would not declare Yarnell, Arizona, a federal disaster area. A spokesmanexplained that while the agency had assisted firefighters during the deadly June blaze, “the damage to uninsured private residences from this event was not beyond the response and recovery capabilities of the state/local governments, and voluntary agencies.”

McCain and Flake, who had partnered to ask for a federal disaster declaration, issued a joint statement Monday, lamenting that it was “a shame that FEMA couldn’t find it within their mission to help rebuild their homes and lives.” Ariled McCain added that in light of the 19 firefighter deaths and the 134 destroyed homes, “the damage that was done was very substantial and, I believe, qualified. So, we’re going to do everything we can to urge the president to change his mind. Including, I will be making some phone calls.”

Gosar, who had also requested an emergency designation, released a statementof his own, saying, “The people of Yarnell do not ask much from the federal government,” but that here it was “reasonable to expect FEMA to step in.”

In January, the Senate passed a long-delayed $50.5 billion Sandy relief package, but among the 36 Senators voting against the bill were Flake and McCain. McCain criticized provisions in the bill that might not be spent immediately as “questionable” and argued “we cannot justify this type of spending.”

When the House gave its approval to the supplemental spending package, Gosar was among 180 Representatives voting no. At that time, he explained, “I am more than willing to support the people and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy, but that would not take over $50 billion taxpayer dollars.” But Gosar even voted against a barebones $9 billion funding increase for FEMA for Sandy relief — one of just 67 members to do so.

Gosar, a climate change denier, has blamed “extreme environmental groups” for Arizona’s many wildfires.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.