February 10, 2013
When nine Republican senators bucked the party line and voted with Democrats in the U.S. Senate to clear a Hurricane Sandy relief bill, it appeared to be something of a victory for bipartisanship.
At the least, it was a victory for the political principle of “where you stand depends on where you sit.” Several senators, including U.S. Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, were from states in the Gulf Coast where the threat of hurricanes is ever-present.
The lack of promptness for Hurricane Sandy relief is not a good sign in general: Even Vitter and other GOP senators backed an earlier amendment to the bill to unsuccessfully tie the relief spending to cuts in the federal budget elsewhere.
We think Vitter was right to buck the party line on the final vote, as did several GOP senators from Mississippi and Alabama.
We share their concern about the budget deficit. The Sandy bill came to $50.5 billion, not a small amount of money.
But as U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., has correctly stated, the issue of hurricane relief cannot become a hostage to the excessive and unending partisan battles over the budget on Capitol Hill.
That way, Hurricane Audrey relief might still be in discussion after 50 years.
Further, the key to hurricane recovery is prompt assistance to get business activity and investment flowing again. Landrieu, as head of the Small Business Committee and a veteran of hurricane relief battles, had by far the better grasp of these issues.
Still, the bottom line is that Vitter and his colleagues stood on record for Sandy relief, as they should, because of the need for effective assistance to the afflicted region.