Rep. Tom Marino, PA-10, on Wednesday criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for misleading his congressional colleagues and using "scare tactics" on victims of recent disasters.
Marino, whose district has been devastated by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, said it was "unconscionable" for the Senate Majority Leader to announce last week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was within days of running out of money. That statement was later found to be inaccurate.
"Either the Obama administration and Harry Reid are incompetent or they think they can pull the wool over the eyes of Americans, or worse, resort to scare tactics to get their way on their pet projects once again," he said. "People in my district are still sleeping in shelters, have no idea what their next step is and cringe every time it starts to rain."
Marino is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee which oversees emergencies and is vice chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications which deals with FEMA.
"This is definitely something that I want the committee to discuss," he said.
On Sept. 23, after the House voted in favor of a continuing resolution that provided immediate assistance to disaster victims, Senate Majority Harry Reid cautioned that FEMA would run out of money by Monday, Sept. 26.
According to two separate published reports, FEMA Director Craig Fugate notified Reid on Sept. 24 to tell him that the Sept. 26 date was inaccurate and that FEMA had enough resources to make it through the year.
On Monday afternoon (Sept. 26), Reid took to the floor and accused House Republicans of blocking disaster aid and holding back on funds FEMA needed to help flood victims.
"The Obama administration or Harry Reid had better come up with a good explanation as to why we were told FEMA was about to run out of money," Marino said. "After Reid's proposal was defeated in the Senate, more money was miraculously found. If that money was there all along and anyone knew about it, that is absolutely unethical."
Marino said it is time the administration and Democratic leadership stop "playing on the emotions of Americans who are suffering."
He also took exception to Reid's accusations that House Republicans were blocking emergency disaster aid.
Marino said the issue over FEMA funding is reminiscent of two other ploys he has seen since he arrived in Washington in January.
"Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner kept issuing those dire warnings about the debt ceiling and constantly changed the date, scaring Americans and investors," he said. "Then, during the budget impasse, President Obama tried to scare senior citizens and military families by suggesting they would not get paid during a government shutdown.
"I think it is despicable to prey on the emotions of our most vulnerable," Marino said.
The freshman congressman said Reid might "stop playing games with people's lives" if he visited the 10th District for a first-hand look at the plight of his constituents.
"I invite him to my district to do what we have been doing here in the last few weeks: stand in the mud, walk through the stench and look into the eyes of people whose possessions are in dumpsters or piled up on the street," Marino said. "Let him talk to people whose houses have been condemned."