By Dan Friedman
New York and New Jersey lawmakers said they will turn the other cheek and support aid for tornado recovery in Oklahoma, whose lawmakers want federal emergency aid for tornado relief even though all but tow opposed aid for Hurricane Sandy.
Those pledges came after conservative Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe's said Tuesday that he voted against aid for Sandy victims but wants it for his state because the two situations are "totally different."
Inhofe said Hurricane Sandy bill was loaded with pork.
"They had things in the Virgin Islands," Inhofe said on MSNBC. "They were fixing roads there, they were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C. Everybody was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place. That won't happen in Oklahoma.
Inhofe got his facts partly wrong. The Sandy relief bill initially contained money for projects outside of areas damaged by Sandy, with the hope of attracting enough votes to get it through Congress.
That spending represented a small portion of the massive bill - and much of it eventually was dropped from the legislation after objections by Republicans in the House.
The Sandy relief legislation did not contain money to put roofs on homes in Washington, but there were funds to repair museum roofs damaged by the hurricane.
Oklahoma's other senator, Tom Coburn, a Republican, wants any federal aid for victims of Monday's tornado to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Democrats, who oppose offsets emergency disaster aid, said Coburn will have to vote against help for his own constituents if he wants to stick to his position.
"I am gonna go with no offsets," said Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)who said lawmakers are starting to assess how much aid Oklahoma will need.
"Sen Coburn is consistent in his views and he is consistently wrong," Mikulski said.
Both of Oklahoma's senators and three of its five House members voted against the $60.2 billion aid package for Sandy victims.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), whose district includes the tornado-shattered town of Moore, Okla., voted for the Sandy package.
Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.) who helped move Sandy aid through the House, declined to address Inhofe's statements but said that he would never deny the state aid because of its elected officials' opposition to the Sandy aid.
"I don't want the people of Oklahoma to suffer for something politicians have done," King said. "I've been through this. I will support them 100 percent."