WASHINGTON – Addressing the massive tornado that killed dozens in Oklahoma, Speaker of the House John Boehner refused to say Tuesday whether he thinks federal government aid sent for storm recovery efforts should be offset with spending cuts elsewhere.
During a press availability with the Republican leadership and members of Oklahoma congressional delegation, Boehner pledged federal assistance to the state and said he ordered flags at the Capitol lowered to half-staff.
“We’ll work with the administration on making sure they have the resources they need to help the people of Oklahoma,” he said.
But the Ohio Republican repeated a variation of that phrase several times Tuesday when asked by reporters about whether a disaster package should be offset, declining to comment specifically on it.
Conservatives in Congress have pushed for offsets before, including during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy earlier this year.
The idea already has traction from the state’s legislators: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is calling for offsets, Roll Call reported on Tuesday.
During the press conference Tuesday at the Capitol, legislators from Oklahoma requested assistance as the state recovers.
“We have a lot of tornadoes in Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford said, “but we don’t have tornadoes like this. This one is very different. So the nation is also responding to it in a very different way.”