Oklahoma senators change tune on disaster relief

Both lawmakers voted against aid for Superstorm Sandy victims before accepting funds to help their own tornado-ravaged state.

By Jason Notte May 23, 2013 8:04AM
Dana Ulepich searches inside a room left standing at the back of her house destroyed after a powerful tornado ripped through the area on May 20, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma (copyright Brett Deering/Getty Images)Hey, Sen. James Inhofe, how does that "slush" taste?

Just days after an EF5 tornado tore through Moore, Okla., killed at least 24 people, left thousands homeless and caused roughly $2 billion in damage, Oklahoma's Republican senators found themselves in the awkward position of receiving the kind of federal disaster aid they had argued so vehemently against just months before.

In January, Inhofe and Sen. Tom Coburn both voted against a $60 billion supplemental appropriation bill that was aimed largely at providing relief to victims of Superstorm Sandy, which slammed into coastal New York and New Jersey last year.

The disaster fund, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, now has a balance of $11.6 billion, which FEMA spokesman Dan Watson told Reuters is enough to handle immediate response and recovery efforts in Oklahoma and residual costs from Sandy.

That's the same money Inhofe called a "slush fund" when the aid had become entangled in the fiscal cliff budget fight back in January and dwindled to nearly nothing after that prolonged bout of political infighting.

"They had things in the Virgin Islands. They were fixing roads there, they were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C. Everybody was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place. That won't happen in Oklahoma," Inhofe said on MSNBC after the recent tornado struck.

Unfortunately for Inhofe, as the New York Daily News points out, that just wasn't true. The Sandy relief bill initially contained money for projects outside of areas damaged by Sandy just to get it through Congress, but Republicans in the House of Representatives stripped out that small portion of the bill. The legislation also didn't contain money to put roofs on homes in Washington, D.C., but it did have funds to repair museum roofs damaged by the storm.

Coburn opposed the Sandy relief bill because it wasn't offset by budget cuts elsewhere. He hasn't made similar demands after the Moore tornado, saying only, "As the ranking member of the Senate committee that oversees FEMA, I can assure Oklahomans that any and all available aid will be delivered without delay."

The senators differ from one of their fellow Oklahoma Republicans -- Rep. Tom Cole, whose district bore the brunt of the tornado damage and just experienced its second such storm in 14 years. He voted for the Sandy relief bill after helping trim out many of the add-ons of the original legislation.

More on moneyNow

May 23, 2013 9:10AM
nothing like a senator exposing his own hypocrisy! 
May 23, 2013 9:24AM
Do as I say don't do as I do. Hypocrite. Different when the shoe is on the other foot huh?
May 23, 2013 10:25AM

Several Oklahoma officials have gone on record yesterday and today asserting that it's just not right to mandate that new "Tornado Alley" construction - of houses, of schools, of any structures - include tornado shelters.


No tornado shelters even in the replacements for the grade schools in which 10 kids just suffocated to death (from falling debris) in their above-ground classrooms and hallways and bathrooms, eh?


Oklahoma politicians may not eat their young, but clearly they don't think much of them.

May 23, 2013 9:09AM
Typical Republican BS - walking back their former stance on relief aid. What a bunch of hypocrites. The party of NO until they need a helping hand. May they rot in he11. 
May 23, 2013 10:35AM
It all depends on whose bull is getting gored.  These Oklahoma Senators, playing up to the ultra conservative elements of their party, are now in the embarrassing position of holding their hands out to FEMA for the very money they would have withheld from the New Jersey hurricane disaster.
Ah, yes, to get reelected at all costs -- yes?

May 23, 2013 10:28AM
Oklahoma, you get what you vote for. Stupid Republicans that don't give a s**t.
May 23, 2013 9:56AM
These senators represent the people of the state of Oklahoma if they voted against disaster aide then the people of Oklahoma should not be qualified for federal disaster aide.  What is going to happen when these senators vote to reduce or eliminate medicare and social security, are these same senators going to want a DO OVER after the citizens of Oklahoma need their social security and medicare.   The state is so RED its bleeding.   I vote these citizens voted for these jerks let them live with their decision NO federal aide . 
May 23, 2013 1:31PM
It's a "slush fund" when someone else gets it, but "relief fund" when you get it.  Funny how even tea party types change their tune about the big bad federal government when a disaster hits their state.
May 23, 2013 9:39AM
Demonstrating that our Congress is bogus and flushing it completely next election is a mandate for all Americans. Destroy the culture, kill the vulture looming over us.
May 23, 2013 10:06AM

The clown posse that is today's "libertarian-conservative" knows little else but to prance about bellowing, "Get yer gummint outta here . . . and send me more money!"



May 23, 2013 11:46AM

 I wonder how much pork These Repubs have put into their own bills at one time or another. Hurts when it bites you in the butt!

May 23, 2013 12:42PM
What a bunch of hypocrites... ok for fellow Americans to suffer in a tragedy but not in my backyard (aka voting pool).
May 23, 2013 10:51AM
Many Republicans have made it blatantly clear they are for the rich and do not care about the working poor citizen.My heart goes out to the people of Oklahoma But the Rep Senators they are HYPOCRITES  WE need to put them to work in the soup kitchens.There may be good lawmakers but they are getting drowned out by gamesters and greedy "LEADERS"who thrive on confusion and chaos The Government  is so big and complex it may be beyond fixing it will run its own course till it collapses Republican ,Democrat it is all  a complex pile of BS......
May 23, 2013 1:32PM
I Hope the people of Oklahoma get all the help they need  We are one country and should care about each other I applaud  the reasonable compromise-rs and diplomats But  i also see more and more groups with an almost fanatic adherence to THEIR ideas that theirs is the only way not even listening or capable of ration conversation In this we are more segregated and apart  and we become completely dis unified and NOTHING gets done I LOVE MY COUNTRY AMERICA it is my home,our home.  we should not give up or leave.I  HOPE WE come together as a Strong and GOOD America Will it take a great tragedy ?? We will see........
May 23, 2013 2:55PM
I love Teapublican hypocrisy. Slam aid to NY but embrace it for Texas or Oklahoma. So much for Teapublican integrity, they will suck at trhe government tit, just like a liberal. I don't see them making any efforts to give back salary or take any benefit cuts to help balance the budget either, they prefer to stick it low level employees, the military and thepchildren of America with the sequester.
May 23, 2013 11:11AM
Disaster aid, if any, should go to repair infrastructure that is "uninsureable", not to towns or cities or people who refused to have adequate coverage.
May 23, 2013 2:02PM
Shame on all who are using ANY disaster for political gain.  I am still wondering why it is taking so long for the people affected by Sandy to get help.  BOTH sides are playing their game and I wouldn't vote for any bill that contain funding for anything that was not DIRECTLY affected for a disaster.  I am from Oklahoma and I am very proud of the community to come and help take care of their own.  We have many times come together to help other communities and will always do that.  I am so tired of people whining about what their Government is doing.  Lets get ALL of these unneutered fat cats out and put some COMMON SENSE people in to run this Government.  Democrats want to spend money we don't have and the Republican can't stop giving breaks to upper class.  Neither wants to give a little. We have people here that died in Sandy and the Moore tornado as well as other disasters.  Shame on anyone spinning this into something other than human beings needing help and we need to stick together for each other now and in the future.
May 23, 2013 3:22PM
Same old GOP...all about themselves!
May 23, 2013 3:39PM
Oh, now all of a sudden the Republicans want government?!
May 23, 2013 3:32PM
How we treat our fellow countrymen when they are victims of unexpected disasters define us as a nation and as human beings.  It shouldn't matter if they are Republicans or Democrats.  Their suffering requires our compassion
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished the Thursday session on a higher note with the S&P 500 climbing 0.5%. The benchmark index registered an early high within the first 90 minutes and inched to a new session best during the final hour of the action.

Equities rallied out of the gate with the financial sector (+1.1%) providing noteworthy support for the second day in a row. The growth-oriented sector extended its September gain to 1.9% versus a more modest uptick of 0.4% for the ... More