Today Congress passed a 9.7 billion relief bill for victims of Hurricane Sandy. While there will always be legitimate differences of opinion as to the proper role of the federal government, assisting victims of a catastrophe which exceeds the abilities of individuals, the market, or state governments to handle would not seem to be very controversial. While it was good to see that many Republicans were willing to vote for this relief, two major conservative groups are opposing their decision.
The Club for Growth is threatening to punish Republicans who voted for this relief measure:
The conservative Club for Growth said Friday that it will punish House members who voted for a flood insurance measure aimed at helping pay for Hurricane Sandy’s damage.
The Club will “key-vote” the measure, using it to compile an annual rating for each lawmaker…
“Congress should not allow the federal government to be involved in the flood insurance industry in the first place, let alone expand the National Flood Insurance Program’s authority,” a statement from the Club’s Andy Roth said.
An NFIP reform bill was passed with bipartisan support in the last Congress, but some conservatives believe the program should be ended or slowly curtailed.
Supporters of NFIP say that the private marketplace will not offer flood protection to the public at affordable rates, making a government program necessary.
Grover Norquists’ Americans for Tax Reform also opposed the bill, calling this “wasteful and unnecessary pork barrel spending.”
Presumably they believe that under a free market Adam Smith’s invisible hand will reach in and rescue hurricane victims.
A second bill providing $51 billion in relief will be coming up for a vote later this month. It will be interesting to see if the Club for Growth and Gover Norquist manage to scare Republicans into voting against the bill.