WASHINGTON – As Oklahoma continues to recover from this week’s catastrophic tornado, more Republicans on Capitol Hill are arguing that any additional federal aid sent for recovery efforts in the state should be offset with spending cuts elsewhere across the federal government.
“With nearly $17 trillion in debt, Congress must put the people of Oklahoma ahead of wasteful federal programs,” Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman said Wednesday in calling for offsets. “Disaster aid is just a small fraction of the $3.6 trillion Washington spends each year but for those in need it’s a lifeline that Congress can easily prioritize in the coming weeks.”
Added Stutzman: “Congress also has an obligation to have a serious discussion about how we pay for emergency money that the state rightfully deserves.”
Conservatives in Congress have pushed for offsets before, including during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year. And the idea already has traction from one of the state’s legislators: Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn said in the aftermath of the storm that he favors offsets.
On Tuesday, the Republican leadership in both the House and Senate was mum when asked about the idea.
“We’ll work with the administration on making sure they have the resources they need to help the people of Oklahoma,” House Speaker John Boehner said when asked about offsets.
Across the Capitol, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed those comments when asked about the proposal Tuesday.
“I think the first thing to do is finish the damage assessment and then we’ll figure what the way forward is,” he said.