Reps. Ted Deutch (FL-19), Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS-2), and twenty-four of their House Democratic colleagues today sent a letter to Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) urging him to immediately reverse his position that federal disaster relief be withheld until such funds are offset by additional budget cuts. Reps. Loebsack (IA-2), Steve Cohen (TN-9), David Price (NC-4), John Yarmuth (KY-3), Frederica Wilson (FL-17), Ed Perlmutter (CO-7), Terri Sewell (AL-7), John Larson (CT-1), Corrine Brown (FL-3), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-23), Norm Dicks (WA-6), Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-7), Joseph Crowley (NY-7), Timothy Bishop (NY-1), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20), Pete Stark (CA-13), Laura Richardson (CA-37), Kathy Castor (FL-11), Bruce Braley (IA-1), Judy Chu (CA-32), Bill Pascrell (NJ-8), Leonard Boswell (IA-3), and John Lewis (GA-5) joined Deutch and Thompson on the letter asking the Majority Leader to reassure the American people that survivors of natural disasters will not languish while politically-charged budget battles play out in Washington.
"Eliminating deficits and balancing our budget is a worthwhile pursuit, but not when it costs lives," the members write to Cantor. "Subjecting federal disaster assistance to partisan budget debate gimmicks would result in a halt of immediate relief in the form of hazard mitigation and personal aid programs such as disaster housing, disaster grants and loans, and disaster-related unemployment assistance... We urge you to reverse course and ensure that once the news media leaves and the public interest is lost, that America's promise to rebuild is kept."
Communities across America that face devastating floods, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural disasters depend on federal funds for search and rescue missions, emergency shelter, and basic needs like food and water, in addition to grants and loans for rebuilding. With Florida one month into the 2011 hurricane season, Deutch's letter to Cantor coincides with his ongoing effort to prevent cuts to advanced weather-monitoring satellites critical for emergency preparedness.