Rand Paul seeks support for Kentucky after years opposing catastrophe support


Daybreak had barely damaged over Western Kentucky on Saturday morning, absolutely revealing the jaw-dropping devastation from a cluster of tornadoes that tore throughout the commonwealth and neighboring states, when Sen. Rand Paul wrote to President Biden and requested quick federal help.

Paul (R-Ky.) requested Biden to “transfer expeditiously to approve the suitable sources for our state,” citing the “lack of life and extreme property injury.” Among the many communities affected was Bowling Inexperienced, the place not less than 15 individuals died when twisters landed simply miles from Paul’s residence. Dozens extra misplaced their lives elsewhere within the state.

The message didn’t go unheeded. Following the request from Paul and from the seven different members of the state’s congressional delegation, Biden declared a federal catastrophe the subsequent day — making Kentucky eligible for the complete vary of emergency authorities help.

But it surely additionally conjured reminiscences of Paul’s personal prolonged historical past of opposing congressional laws written to handle previous disasters, together with payments handed following hurricanes Sandy, Harvey and Maria directing billions of {dollars} of help to stricken People.

Liberal social media customers flooded platforms with accusations of brazen hypocrisy and surfaced clips of Paul arguing towards the bipartisan support payments.

“RT IF YOU THINK THAT RAND PAUL IS A HYPOCRITE,” Occupy Democrats, a liberal group, wrote on Twitter, and greater than 12,000 certainly retweeted the sentiment to their followers.

“We should always do all we will to assist our Kentucky neighbors. God be with them — they’re hurting,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) wrote. “However don’t for one second neglect that [Paul] has voted towards serving to most People most occasions they’re in want.”

Interviewed Tuesday in regards to the criticism, Paul lashed out at his critics and stated they have been distorting his document, which incorporates not solely opposition to disaster-specific support payments, however opposition to most each authorities spending invoice that the Senate has taken up since 2011, when he was sworn in.

“We’re involved with burying our lifeless and mourning those that have died proper now,” he stated. “I believe it’s unhappy that folks on the left who’ve an agenda within the midst of individuals dying can’t come collectively to attempt to assist individuals of their time of want however as an alternative need to rating low-cost political factors, most of which is unfaithful.”

Paul, who has donated $100,000 from his marketing campaign to the reduction effort, stated he has routinely requested emergency support for his state when warranted and that he has “by no means been against this system, ever.” What he has been against, he stated, is refilling catastrophe support accounts with borrowed cash reasonably than offsetting the catastrophe support with spending cuts elsewhere within the federal price range.

“That’s totally different than saying, ‘Oh, he now needs it as a result of it’s in his state and he by no means wished it [before],’ ” he stated. “I’ve by no means opposed anyone’s catastrophe reduction in every other state. I’ve simply requested that or not it’s paid for.”

That model of philosophical, libertarian-tinged conservatism has been Paul’s hallmark throughout his decade within the Senate, and his willingness to single-handedly stand in the best way of federal spending laws — even payments backed by the majority of his fellow Republicans — has made him a thorn within the facet of not solely Democrats however his fellow Republican senator from Kentucky, Minority Chief Mitch McConnell.

Paul has embraced catastrophe spending payments, that are ceaselessly handed exterior the traditional appropriations course of, as platforms for his hard-line fiscal views, and his sharp rhetoric has made it straightforward for his on-line critics to search out fodder for his or her hypocrisy expenses.

When the Senate took up a invoice in 2017 that might ship $36 billion to help victims of hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Texas, 17 Republicans finally voted towards it for fiscal causes. However solely Paul supplied a fiery flooring speech as he sought to offset the help by slicing international support to Pakistan.

“You’ll find usually it’s straightforward to be compassionate with someone else’s cash, however it’s not solely that,” he stated. “It isn’t solely compassion with another person’s cash, it’s compassion with cash that doesn’t even exist, cash that’s borrowed.”

In July, a fellow Republican, Sen. John Neely Kennedy (La.), got here to the Senate flooring to ask for unanimous consent to go this Gulf Coast Hurricane Help Act, which might have supplied $1.1 billion in federal support for these affected by hurricanes Laura and Delta.

Kennedy’s invoice even had a fiscal offset — utilizing a few of the $80 billion in proceeds from a 2020 radio spectrum public sale. However Paul objected nonetheless.

“Everyone needs one thing, and someone says, ‘Oh, there’s cash within the treasury! Guess what? There’s not. There’s an enormous gap. An enormous, black gap within the treasury, $28 trillion price.”

When spectrum is bought, he stated, “we must always do it to pay down the deficit — we shouldn’t do it to broaden authorities additional.”

Paul shouldn’t be the one Kentuckian who has a spotty document on catastrophe support. Moreover Paul, three GOP Home members — Reps. Garland “Andy” Barr, Brett Guthrie and Thomas Massie — opposed a 2013 invoice to handle the East Coast megastorm Sandy. Barr and Massie, in addition to Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), opposed a 2019 invoice offering $17 billion in catastrophe support.

It seems unlikely — for now, anyway — that Paul and his fiscally conservative statesmen can be compelled to take a vote on delivering federal {dollars} to their very own devastated constituents.

Congressional aides stated it was too early to inform definitively, however key federal emergency response accounts, together with the Federal Emergency Administration Company’s Catastrophe Reduction Fund, gave the impression to be well-positioned to satisfy the wants in Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee.

A FEMA report issued earlier this month discovered that the primary fund had not less than $10 billion accessible to reply to new disasters. And, traditionally, twister outbreaks have required comparatively small expenditures, particularly in contrast with hurricanes, which are inclined to have an effect on dense city areas.

The final twister outbreak of an analogous scale, within the spring of 2011, price taxpayers roughly $1.5 billion, in accordance with FEMA stories. Sandy, by comparability, drained $22 billion from the Catastrophe Reduction Fund, plus tens of billions of {dollars} extra in flood insurance coverage claims and different losses.

Ultimately, nonetheless, the coffers should be replenished. And whereas on-line critics didn’t maintain again of their fury towards Paul, his Senate colleagues have been extra measured, assuring twister victims in Kentucky and elsewhere that Congress would act if wanted.

“I’ve at all times voted for catastrophe support, and we shouldn’t maintain it towards catastrophe victims when their politicians usually are not doing their job,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Unwell.) stated.


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