Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Barletta Fights For FEMA Help Desperately Needed In His District

This Morning Call blog reports Congressman Lou Barletta has joined 70 Democrats in asking Republican Leadership to give FEMA a larger relief pool of funds.

Around 70 House Democrats sent a letter to House Republican leadership urging them to accept a larger funding pool for FEMA disaster relief. Among those Democrat signatures one name sticks out: Pennsylvania Republican Lou Barletta.

Barletta, whose 11th district was ravaged by recent flooding, said he has joined the Democrats because his constituents need the extra help. He described grown men and women crying on their front porches, their homes destroyed, possessions lost, wondering if anyone will help.
How much to supplement FEMA's disaster relief fund in the wake of Hurricanes Irene and Lee has become a major sticking point in passing a resolution to keep the government funded through November. At issue is this: The House Republicans want to pass a "continuing resolution" with $3.65 billion for the fund with offsets. The Senate has already passed a stand alone measure providing $6.9 billion for FEMA. Majority Leader Harry Reid has said if the House passes its funding bill and sends it to the Senate he will attempt to amend it with the larger FEMA pot. House Democrats are also planning to vote against the bill.

Barletta said he has not yet decided whether he too will vote against the House Republican version.
In the letter, the members write that "FEMA cannot begin full recovery efforts in areas recently devastated because of the lack of adequate resources." The fund is expected to run out of money before the end of the month. "We have an obligation to fulfill to our fellow citizens," they write. "FEMA and other federal agencies need the entirety of the Senate's bill to help suffering Americans today. Please prevent disaster aid from getting caught up in budget brinksmanship by bringing the bill passed by the Senate up for a vote.

In related news, Reid secured a handful of Senate Republican votes to pass the $6.9 billion FEMA funding bill. Among those Republicans was Pennsylvania GOP Pat Toomey. Reid will need those votes again if he wants to amend the House bill and there's no guarantee Toomey and the other will vote for it a second time around.

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