John Culberson and His Tea Party Played Politics with FEMA Funding; Don’t Let Them Do It Again

HOUSTON (Nov. 4, 2012): A little more than a year ago, the House Republicans, including John Culberson, voted to slash the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) budget by 40%.  The President had requested $5.1 billion but the Tea Party-controlled House only approved $3.65 billion, and only after insisting on off-setting budget cuts to unrelated programs before even passing that amount.

This financing debate occurred while Joplin, Missouri was recovering from a devastating tornado that killed 160 and the East Coast was recovering from Hurricane Irene that killed 56 and became the 5th costliest hurricane in United States history.  John Culberson and his allies played politics while Americans suffered.  Never before had Congress insisted that off-setting cuts be made before allocating emergency funding to Americans in need.

Besides causing needless delay, the smaller budget devastated FEMA’s state and local programs, including: hospital disaster recovery programs, school preparedness programs, regional planning for catastrophic disasters, emergency operations centers, and disaster response training programs.  The Administration was able to replace many of these cuts in the subsequent budget, over Tea Party objections, resulting in a $7.1 billion 2012 budget.  It is this budget that is allowing FEMA to respond decisively to the victims of hurricane Sandy.

“As Houston voters go to the polls, they should consider whether their current representative in Congress has looked out for their best interest,” James Cargas candidate for the U.S. Congress said.  “The next time a major hurricane comes through the gulf and hits Houston, will FEMA be adequately funded and able to help us as they are so admirably helping the people of the East Coast today,” Cargas asks, “or will the Tea Party insist on weeks of debate over cutting unrelated programs before sending us relief?”

“Surgical cuts to the federal budget are needed, but not at the expense of Americans devastated by storms, fires, tornadoes, earthquakes or hurricanes,” Cargas concluded.  “We have a moral obligation to help our neighbors when they are in need, especially since East Coast taxpayers have helped fund past hurricane relief in Houston.”

Houston Deserves Better!

James Cargas offers extensive public service experience. He has served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a deputy press secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as a law clerk, Clinton White House as an aide, and U.S. Department of Energy under Secretary Bill Richardson as a political appointee. He is currently the Senior Assistant City Attorney for Energy for the City of Houston. James and his wife, Dr. Dorina Papageorgiou, a neuroscientist are members of the Greek Orthodox Annunciation Cathedral.