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New Pittsburgh-area congressman Keith Rothfus made his first big vote today -- voting against $9.7 billion in Hurricane Sandy flood insurance relief. In the 18-member Pa congressional delegation only he and fellow freshman Scott Perry (R-York) voted against the measure, while fellow GOPers such as Tim Murphy, Mike Kelly and Bill Shuster voted in favor. (Interestingly, Romney VP/budget hawk Paul Ryan was a no too.)
The relief bill passed 354-67 with all the nays coming from Republicans and goes next to the Senate. Another, much larger ($51B) relief measure will come up Jan. 15.
We'll post Rothfus's reasoning if we get it, but it's worth noting his last government job was working on Hurricane Katrina relief in the George W. Bush administration.
UPDATE 3:20 PM from Rothfus office:
"My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those affected by Hurricane Sandy" stated Congressman Rothfus. "The affected areas and families need relief. However, I came to Washington to control spending in a sensible manner. The bill passed today costs almost $10 billion and adds to the deficit. My concern is that we in Congress should have worked to find a way to pay for this now."
The conservative group Club For Growth -- once led by Rothfus mentor Pat Toomey -- urged the House today to vote the package down. Their statement:
The Club for Growth urges all members of the U.S. House to vote "NO" on the bill to expand the National Flood Insurance Program's borrowing authority by $9.7 billion. Consideration of the plan on the House floor is expected to occur today. This vote will be included in the Club for Growth's 2013 congressional scorecard.
Congress should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the national flood insurance program's authority.
As we have said in a previous key vote alert, the proper way to address disaster relief is to release the funds in installments to make sure the resources are spent wisely. They should also strip out all immaterial line items, and fully offset all expenditures with spending cuts elsewhere. Serious reform would also include a way for the states to take over the responsibility for future disaster relief funding so that accountability is more localized.
Our Congressional Scorecard for the 113th Congress provides a comprehensive rating of how well or how poorly each member of Congress supports pro-growth, free-market policies and will be distributed to our members and to the public.
Toomey, too, was against the aid package when the Senate last voted in mid-December, arguing it was "an outrageous amoung of money."