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4 Texas congressmen voted against $15.25 billion hurricane relief bill

Congressmen say they approve of hurricane relief, not other aspects of bill

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TEXAS – On Friday, four Texas politicians voted against a bill that would allot $15.25 billion in disaster relief funds to areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey.

The politicians, Texas U.S. District 6 Rep. Joe Barton, Texas U.S. District 5 Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas U.S. District 13 Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas U.S. District 3 Rep. Sam Johnson, represent districts unaffected by Harvey.

Each representative with the exception of Johnson released statements regarding their opposition to the bill. 

The congressmen said relief funds were just a portion of the bill that included raising the debt limit -- something the representatives could not agree to.

Nevertheless, the bill passed and was signed by President Donald Trump on Friday. The White House released the following statement after its passage:

The President appreciates Congress putting aside partisan politics and acting quickly to ensure that first responders, local officials, and Federal emergency management personnel have the resources they need to respond to the natural disasters impacting our Nation.  H.R. 601 provides an additional $15.25 billion in emergency appropriations for disaster relief and extends the authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program through December 8th, a welcome action for all of those affected by these terrible disasters. 

See what the congressmen had to say after voting against the bill:

Joe Barton

"Earlier this week, I voted for an emergency relief package for victims of Hurricane Harvey. That package went to the Senate, where it was attached to a much larger public debt ceiling extension. Today, when the hurricane relief-debt ceiling increase bill came back from the Senate, I voted no. I am not against voting for relief programs to help hurricane victims, but I am against raising the public debt ceiling without a plan to reduce deficits in the short term, and eliminate them in the long term. The money we vote to spend today will have to be paid back by our children and grandchildren. We have yet again missed an opportunity for substantial reforms and reduced spending. The debt ceiling extension runs until the middle of December. Between now and then, I am going to work to craft a package of budget reforms with the goal of balancing the federal budget, so we do not continue to raise the public debt ceiling.”

Jeb Hensarling

"I frequently hear the term emergency in Washington, but this time it is truly warranted. We currently have fellow Texans and Louisianans who are in immediate need of food, shelter, and medicine. In all likelihood, our friends on the East Coast are in imminent danger as well. 

"Nevertheless, another emergency that we continue to ignore is the emergency of our unsustainable national debt. Emergency funding should not come to the House without an opportunity to propose offsets, a number of which can easily be found in President Trump’s budget. 

"I’ve seen emergencies arise from natural disasters before, and I’ve seen how this funding scenario can grow in size and shrink in focus. We need to provide emergency spending to get people out of harm’s way and provide an appropriate safety net. Rebuilding, as important as it is, should not go through an emergency funding process that exacerbates our dangerous and unstable national debt. Furthermore, we must solve the underlying problems of the National Flood Insurance Program or we will simply see increased fatalities and economic carnage. When it comes to the NFIP, the government should not be complicit in encouraging and subsidizing people to live in dangerous areas, and as people rebuild, we should be working toward mitigating the risks of living in flood prone areas."

Sam Johnson

NOTE: Johnson did not publish a statement to his website or social media pages following the decision, but noted he voted in favor of a hurricane relief bill earlier in the week.

ICYMI: "Yesterday I voted with the House to pass much-needed disaster relief to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. This is an important and necessary step toward recovery. To all those who have been impacted, you will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. GBU."

Mac Thornberry

"I support providing immediate emergency assistance for those affected by recent natural disasters and was glad to vote for such a bill earlier this week. I believe that raising the debt limit for only three months is a mistake because it does not provide the certainty that financial markets and our economy need.

"But most concerning to me, and the reason I am voting against this bill, is that it forces our military to operate under a stopgap continuing resolution -- once again.

"Continuing resolutions do enormous, lasting damage to the American military. We are witnessing an alarming increase in accidents, growing evidence of a force under stress, and an eroding technological position when compared with our adversaries.  Not only does this bill fail to remedy those problems, it makes them worse.

"This bill, like other CRs, allows no new starts -- the Pentagon must spend the same money on the same things as last year.  But the world is not standing still.  In fact, the threats from North Korea and others grow every day.  Yet, this CR prevents us from responding.

"The Constitution places on Congress the responsibility to 'raise and support,' 'provide and maintain,' the military forces of the United States.  It is morally wrong for our nation to send brave men and women out on mission -- even routine training or operations -- without the very best equipment, the very best training, the very best support our country can provide. The dysfunction in the budget process has meant that we have not provided them with the best and that we have not been meeting our responsibilities. This bill is more of the same.

"There is plenty of blame to go around between both parties and both the Executive and Legislative branches of government. But this negligence must stop. We must fulfill our duty. We must do better.

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