House Republicans are awaiting a request from President Obama on how much federal disaster aid will be needed to address the devastation in Joplin, Missouri after the Midwest town was hit huge tornado, leaving 125 dead by current count.
But GOP leadership is sticking to a promise to offset the funds with spending cuts in other areas, diverting $1 billion Wednesday from the Department of Energy to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a bill reported out of the Appropriations Committee.
The push has already led to dissension among Republicans. Republican Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt issued a challenge to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Tuesday to find where the cuts would come from.
GOP Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who represents Missouri’s 8th district, also challenged Cantor Wednesday, telling reporters the disaster aid does not need to be offset.
Emerson informed Cantor she had just “slammed” him in the media shortly afterwards, she said late Wednesday. Cantor assured her he had already found where the spending cuts would come from and Emerson said, “more power to you.”
But the issue appeared to irk Cantor, who sighed, “you and Roy Blunt,” Emerson recalled.
Cantor has said federal aid is an appropriate response to the tragedy and “we can find the money to meet our priorities.”
“Obviously the people of Joplin and Missouri are facing a terrible tragedy, and our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Federal spending must be prioritized, and clearly emergency funding for disasters such as this are an urgent priority – and Congress stands ready for a request for funding from President Obama,” said Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring.