In early September, lawmakers approved billions of dollars in Hurricane Harvey relief, while also agreeing to fund the federal government for three more months.
However, out of 239 Republicans, 90 fiscally conservative Republicans voted no on the Harvey relief bill, but not necessarily because they didn't want money to go to hurricane victims.
Political Science Expert with Elon University, Jason Husser explained, "(They voted no) because they want to reign in federal spending by the government."
Representative Ted Budd told the News and Observer, the bill attached "irrelevant items to what was a clean disaster relief bill."
A spokeswoman for Representative Virginia Foxx sent News 2 this full statement,
“Last week, Representative Foxx joined all of her colleagues in the North Carolina delegation in support of the House legislation which included $7.5 billion in genuine emergency funding for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Unfortunately, the Senate passed an amendment to raise our nation’s debt ceiling without desperately needed structural reforms to rein in out-of-control spending and our $20 trillion national debt. Furthermore, the Senate’s amendment added an extremely bloated $7.5 billion increase to a slush-fund masqueraded as ‘disaster relief.’ That slush fund, the Community Development Block Grant, is duplicative, ill-designed, and often diverted to pork projects that have almost nothing to do with emergency response. To be clear, American taxpayers are responsible for footing the enormous bill the Senate offered and Rep. Foxx believes those hardworking taxpayers deserve fiscal reform and spending restraint. That is why Rep. Foxx joined 90 of her Republican colleagues to vote against the Senate’s costly amendment and its abandonment of efforts to get the fiscal house of the United States in order.”
What does this all mean? Basically, a group of Republicans voted no because the Harvey relief bill was attached to another bill which will fund the federal government through December. It's part of a deal President Donald Trump struck with Democratic leaders to temporarily delay a government shutdown; a deal that did not sit well with some members of the President's own party.
"This vote we saw, that seems really cruel to not vote for Harvey relief, is really a result of a pretty convoluted process that is a result of Congress not working very well these days," said Husser.
The practice of lumping controversial measures, like raising the debt ceiling, with easy to pass measures, like hurricane relief, has become more common in congress over the last 20 years.
"It's legislation that lumps a bunch of things together. It's 80 percent of something people like and 20 percent of something they don't like, and they slap it together to get it voted on," Husser explained."If Harvey had not happened, something else would have been attached to the debt ceiling bill to get it passed. It's not the healthiest way to do things, but it does allow us to avoid a gridlock."
The no votes were a form of political protest against more debt that is to be acquired by the government. To make things even more political, Husser said opponents in the next election are sure to use the no vote as an attack ad against incumbent Republicans.
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