It took 66 days for the US House of Representatives to get around to appropriating a fraction of the relief dollars needed to help homeowners and businesses get back on their feet after Superstorm Sandy swept the East Coast. The House finally acted today after backtracking Speaker John Boehner reversed his decision to ignore the measure in the wake of widespread criticism, including from some GOP congressmen. The US Senate acted much earlier.
The House measure passed, 354 to 67 -- and all 67 "no" votes cast were by heartless "fiscal conservative" Republicans. So how did the Wisconsin congressional delegation tally?
Voting without detectable compassion or conscience against the relief masure were Republicans Tom Petri, Jim Sensenbrenner, Sean Duffy and Paul Ryan. GOP Rep. Reid Ribble did not vote. Democratic Represenatives Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind voted yes.
Right there, summed up in one vote, is the fundamental quality of mercy, the funadmental decency or lack thereof, of your representative in Congress.
The $9.7 billion bill is a down payment on requested aid. Another vote later may provide the balance of the $51 billion in funds. The money supports Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance programs to be distributed to businesses and residents blasted by the storm. The money will go to process 115,000 pending insurance claims.
No doubt Ryan and the other naysaying Republicans regard this relief as yet another kind of 47-percenter, "taker" giveaway, but just as in the case of Social Security and Medicare, the flood insurance program monies will go to homeowners and businesses who PAID federal flood insurance premiums. So the payouts aren't some kind of gift, they're legitimate obligations of the government.
Yet, GOP leadershp sat on the measure for months and then when the vote finally happened, 67 of them voted no, including those four ever-so-conscientious Wisconsin GOP congressmen. Yep, they're willing to default on obligations incurred by Congress, at least if those obligations do not mainly serve the GOP base.
Well, shame on those guys. The next time Wisconsin is blasted by tornadoes or floods or drought or some other natural disaster, we'll watch as Ryan, Sensenbrenner, Duffy and Petri similarly ignore constituents in need within their respective districts. Or perhaps not. Because these are dudes who clearly know the price of everything but the value of nothing.