Journalism in the Public Interest

Why 58 Representatives Who Voted for Hurricane Katrina Aid Voted Against Aid for Sandy

Bills that passed almost unanimously in 2005 have run into trouble this time around.

Damage in the Rockaway neighborhood in Queens, N.Y., where the historic boardwalk was washed away during Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 31, 2012. Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Congress passed two relief bills almost unanimously. But when it comes to Hurricane Sandy, some in Congress seem to have had a change of heart.

After Katrina, a $51.8 billion relief package passed the House of Representatives 410 to 11. Another bill, which allowed the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow more money, sailed through 416 to 0.

On Tuesday, the House passed a $50.7 billion relief package for Sandy. This time, 180 representatives voted against it — 179 Republicans, one Democrat — 56 of whom had voted for the similarly sized Katrina bill.

Another Sandy bill earlier this month also garnered opposition. That bill, almost identical to the one on the flood insurance program passed after Katrina, was opposed by 67 representatives, all Republicans.

In total, 58 representatives voted against bills this month similar to ones that they had supported after Katrina.

Here's a breakdown of how each of them voted on the two Katrina bills and the two Sandy ones:

Aid Vote
Aid Vote
Katrina Flood Insurance VoteSandy Flood Insurance Vote
Robert B. AderholtAla.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Mike D. RogersAla.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Trent FranksAriz.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Ed RoyceCalif.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Ken CalvertCalif.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Darrell IssaCalif.Rep.YeaNayDidn't VoteYea
Gary G. MillerCalif.Rep.YeaNayYeaDidn't Vote
Dana RohrabacherCalif.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
John L. MicaFla.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Jeff MillerFla.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Tom PriceGa.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Phil GingreyGa.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Mike SimpsonIdahoRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Tom LathamIowaRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Dave CampMich.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Candice S. MillerMich.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Fred UptonMich.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
John KlineMinn.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Sam GravesMo.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Virginia FoxxN.C.Rep.NayNayYeaNay
Howard CobleN.C.RepYeaNayYeaYea
Walter B. JonesN.C.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Patrick T. McHenryN.C.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Steve PearceN.M.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Jeff FortenberryNeb.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Lee TerryNeb.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Steve ChabotOhioRep.YeaNayYeaNay
Pat TiberiOhioRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Greg WaldenOre.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Tim MurphyPa.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Joe PittsPa.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Bill ShusterPa.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Joe WilsonS.C.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Marsha BlackburnTenn.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
John J. Duncan Jr.Tenn.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Jim CooperTenn.Dem.YeaNayYeaYea
Louie GohmertTexasRep.YeaNayYeaNay
Kenny MarchantTexasRep.YeaNayYeaNay
Randy NeugebauerTexasRep.YeaNayYeaNay
William M. ThornberryTexasRep.YeaNayYeaNay
Michael C. BurgessTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
John CarterTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Kay GrangerTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Ralph M. HallTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Jeb HensarlingTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Sam JohnsonTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Michael McCaulTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Ted PoeTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Pete SessionsTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Lamar SmithTexasRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Rob BishopUtahRep.YeaNayYeaYea
Robert W. GoodlatteVa.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
J. Randy ForbesVa.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Doc HastingsWash.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Cathy McMorris RodgersWash.Rep.YeaNayYeaYea
Tom PetriWis.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
Paul D. RyanWis.Rep.YeaNayYeaNay
F. James SensenbrennerWis.Rep.NayNayYeaNay

Source: Clerk of the House of Representatives

What accounts for the legislators' changed votes?

"The difference is the fiscal state of the country," Jason Klindt, a spokesman for Rep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, wrote in an email explaining why Graves voted for both of the Katrina relief bills but against the ones for Hurricane Sandy. "The days of buy now and pay later are over," he added.

Klindt said Graves would have supported the bills if they had offset the costs with spending cuts.

The $51.8 billion relief bill passed after Katrina and the $50.7 billion one that passed the House on Tuesday aren't exactly the same. The Katrina version allocated almost all of the money to the Department of Homeland Security for disaster relief, while the Sandy one directs relief money to a slew of federal agencies.

Conservatives derided some of the provisions of the Sandy bill as pork. As they point out, the bill allocates billions to dozens of federal agencies, including the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Secret Service, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But the bill also specifies the agencies must spend the money on Sandy-related expenses.

As for the votes against the flood insurance program, the Katrina and Sandy bills were basically the same. But there is an important difference: The program has fallen at least $20 billion into the red since Katrina. And it doesn't take in enough revenue to pay the money back.

The Katrina bill raised the limit on borrowing for the program by $2 billion — subsequent legislation increased it by billions more to cover Katrina-related losses. And the Sandy bill upped the borrowing limit by another $9.7 billion.

"We're continually bailing out this program and it's clear that it's no longer solvent," said Heather Vaughan, a spokeswoman for Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, who voted to let the flood insurance program — which insures 5.7 million homes — borrow more money in 2005 but against it this month.

"It would be irresponsible to raise an insolvent program's debt ceiling without making the necessary reforms," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said in a statement after the vote this month.

How did the flood insurance program fall so deeply into debt? The short answer is Hurricane Katrina.

"The program worked well for a good number of years," said David Maurstad, who ran the program from 2004 to 2008. Funded by annual premiums paid by homeowners, the program was self-sufficient and had even built up a reserve of about $2 billion by 2004, according to Maurstad. But it wasn't designed to handle a catastrophic year like 2005, when Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma left the program on the hook for $17.7 billion in claims. So Congress authorized the program to borrow the money to pay the claims.

But the flood insurance program didn't have any way to repay those funds. It takes in only about $3.5 billion a year in premiums, and the claims have overwhelmed premiums in four of the last eight years.

One representative actually voted against the big Katrina relief package but in favor of the Sandy one this week: Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey. Garrett did not respond to requests for comment on the vote.

Because they are hypocrites, who hate the NE

You have the answer—a slew of federal agencies—waste fraud and out right theft, happens every time. These screwballs in congress love natural disaster aid.—“give me some “.

Isn’t it also true that about half - 50% - of the Hurricane Sandy Relief bill was NOT targeted to disaster recovery? That it was larded with “add-ons”? So, when the Libtards cry boo-hoo, aren’t those crocodile tears? Both the Dems and Reps DISGUST me…Rachel Maddow is Rush Limbaugh with 2 vaginas…Limbaugh only has ONE!...

(Looked up a NAY)

WASHINGTON. D.C. – Representative Virginia Foxx issued the following statement after voting Tuesday against H.R. 152:

“If Washington is going to charge more than $60 billion dollars of ‘emergency spending’ to the taxpayer credit card, every dollar should be used to help emergency victims. The spending in H.R. 152 doesn’t come close to meeting that requirement and so I could not support it.

“Emergencies require us to come together as a country to help our neighbors in need and ensure that taxpayer-funded assistance gets to victims quickly and efficiently. Emergencies should not be used as cover for profligate Washington spending or to dodge the scrutiny of an open budget process. I fear, however, both are the case with this legislation.

“H.R. 152 is weighed down by spending entirely unrelated to Hurricane Sandy.  Despite its ‘emergency’ classification, just seven percent of H.R. 152’s total cost will go toward helping victims in the near future, and not a cent of its cost is offset. In a debt crisis of $16.4 trillion proportion, the failure to budget for such an expense must be questioned.”

Among the non-emergency spending included in H.R. 152 are the following:

$16 billion for Community Development Funds that would be made available to any community or state declared to be a federal disaster area in 2011, 2012 and 2013 (Hurricane Sandy occurred AFTER 2011, so states not affected by Sandy would be eligible for this taxpayer money);
$2 million for repairs to Smithsonian roofs in Washington, D.C.;
$3.46 billion for non-emergency Army Corps of Engineers spending, as classified by the Congressional Budget Office;
Transportation funding (including highway repairs in the Virgin Islands) not limited to areas affected by Hurricane Sandy; and
Provisions making Guam eligible for funding (Guam is 8,000 miles away from New York).
Monday, Foxx voted to support the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (H.R. 219), bipartisan legislation that corrects inefficiencies in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs in order to speed up the delivery of assistance to victims and reduce the overall cost of recovery to taxpayers.

# # #

Mark A Kralicek

Jan. 18, 2013, 5:48 p.m.

We’ll see how they vote when there states need the money.. It’s awfull the government agencies and many private contractors are out for free money.. But to keep Americans in the north east in dire straits is even worse…


Sam Graves can explain to his constituents later this spring when tornadoes hit MO & KS; remember Joplin.  I am sure the fund will not be in better shape than so I guess Graves will have to vote against aid to his own constituents with the explanation he just gave for voting against Sandy.

As I see it
$16 billion for Community Development Funds that would be made available to any community or state declared to be a federal disaster area in 2011, 2012 and 2013 (Hurricane Sandy occurred AFTER 2011, so states not affected by Sandy would be eligible for this taxpayer money)

I’m a flood adjuster and a flood file examiner. All of the above got all their funds pulled right after Sandy and the money shifted to response to Sandy. So money is still needed to STILL fix the fires in TX , the hurricane damage in New Orleans ( not Katrina) the one more recent, Joplin MS, Alabama, a few other towns hit by tornadoes, the Mississippi flood last year over 4 states. There were plenty of disasters last year and the year before. THEY STILL NEED to get completed!! Oh and let me know if you see any Corporate of America or nationally organized religious based group comes forward and say’s ” FEMA don’t worry about it. We’ll take it from here and finish it.” Why cause none of them will and never will. They are in the business to make a profit. Government is not in the business of making a profit. If you had government in competition with private or public industry our system would fall apart. NO insurance company offers flood insurance but the Federal Government and Lloyds of London, the difference is about 1200 dollars FED to $10,000 Lloyds dollars in cost one house. 

Let me ask you a question? If your house got hit by a tornado would you know everything you had to buy and replace by the next year? I mean right down to the very penny the TOTAL cost you were out?  NO you would not. Things come up, you forgot about something, inflation, Canadian wood goes up,  fraud happens from civilian contractors, Americans who rip off their own people, but it happens every time in many situations during a disaster. The world is not perfect we do not live in the Garden of Eden any more so stop trying to expect it.
EVERYONE makes mistakes.

$2 million for repairs to Smithsonian roofs in Washington, D.C. Hey you bozos it did get hit by Hurricane Sandy they just ear marked it specifically. 

$3.46 billion for non-emergency Army Corps of Engineers spending, as classified by the Congressional Budget Office; Since no one seems to really know the whole story the Core needs funds big time. You ( the Congress) keep cutting their annual request and you’ll keep having problems like Katrina. Now that the Core has cut off maintenance of all the levies it can get down to handling some of the dams and other projects that are in bad need before they turn into another future disaster cause YOU cut the funds for them rather than raising taxes, Common sense would say a life is worth it. Could be just one or could be 500.

Get a clue people G Bush cut taxes way too much to get himself reelected. Even members in his own party disagreed to such severe cuts. He desperately wanted to get reelected. In turn that’s why we’re in this mess. So everyone got used to the extra money but blew off what it cost to run this country and make the quality of life in it what it was. Oh yeah go ahead and blame it on how all the politicians you say are crooks. I don’t blame ya, all you hear from the media is the bad stuff. Like maybe about 5% percent max on total funds of some departments. Yes 50 million sounds like a lot of money to you and me but not when their total budget is 25 billion. Does the media tell you that the 50 million was 2% of their total budget. Everyone blows off 2% on everything. Everyone does it, you, me, your kids school, the grocery store, Corporate America. Why? cause it’s factored into yours, mine, the school, the grocery and Corporate expense budgets from the very beginning. All under the instance of “S#i+ Happens.” That’s life people. No one has a crystal ball and we no longer live in the perfect Garden of Eden, We lost that a long time ago so quit thinking everything should be perfect and there are no mistakes. You made a mistake today. You did. Think back, it may have been big, it may have been small but you DID make a mistake today. We all do we’re all human. So get a clue and ask one more question from media or yourself, How does this or that affect the big picture? So please don’t just mouth off and not read the whole article and just drop down to comments and spread some rumors that incidentally are rumors but your to stupid to check them out first. You say “but everyone lies so why not spread more of the same lie?” If that’s how you believe then please leave this country and do not say or influence any child before you leave. Cause you just F’ed their head up and your nothing more than a pedophile. Keep your ignorance and your selfishness to yourself.

I guess all that pork from the unpaid wars, Medicare Part D, unpaid for tax cuts, uh, when exactly did that happen?
It’s like 2000-2008 never happened.
Oh my bad, the color of the skin of the current occupant of the WH. That explains it.

Republican congressmen, other than those predominantly from N.J. and N.Y. , declined to help fellow Americans this time because those in need are from the Blue States. Yet, Democrat congressmen across the Nation readily voted to assist Katrina victims, in spite of the fact that LA is a Red State. Republicans are -at the core - selfish and hypocritical. They will help themselves, their own family members, their home State, etc. when there is self- interest. They are lacking the sense of family and citizenship when it comes to those they consider “Others”- Blue States, minorities, other Nations of the world, and so on. They come up with the lame excuse of ” We couldn’t afford it this time “. They say they are concerned about the budget to hide their hypocrisy. GOP where is your humanity?

There are many examples of flood insurance replacing homes and businesses multiple times from floods! People should not build in flood prone areas,period! Here in Floriduh,we are paying outrageous fees to the only insurance available for many of us;Citizens,a State run insurer of last resort and what a fiasco! How about federal hurricane coverage like Federal flood insurance! The answer is to raise the premiums for Federal Flood insurance to a realistic level and reduce the dependance on the taxpayer and if a home is badly damaged or destroyed by flood then advise the insured that either move or no more taxpayer subsidised coverage. Same goes for all Federal insurance plans,crop,nuclear power and on and on!

As they say “You get what you give”——“What goes around comes around”.  The republicans will find this out & it will not be long, probably the next hurricane season or the next tornado season.  The south & Midwest that put the screws to the northeast for pure politics will be crying crocodile tears later on.  That really is too bad because this is the United States of America supposedly where we all help each other out & it did used to be that way until the republicans got taken over by the far right fringe elements.

Your post contains many words but in response to one item; “leave the country if you don’t like it”. All Americans would like to make this country better, its their right,—so like it or leave it—is short sighted.
We the people have to hold our so called leaders accountable, how many are doing that ? how many do you know write, call, or email their congressman, or senator ? I do that do you ? If more did you might see a difference. We’re frustrated as we see the debt that we have, the fraud, the waste, etc; its not hopeless yet but soon it will be, don’t take my word for it, check it out your self and apply some common sense.

Nick, you are correct; the “love it or leave it” I had hoped had gone away.  This was said for those who opposed the Vietnam war.  Everyone was to just go blindly into war like Iraq & not question those who wanted it.

You are right we are all frustrated & the congress is only as good or bad as we let it be.  Everyone needs to voice their opinion to their representatives, then they can bitch.

Maryann Duncan

Jan. 19, 2013, 7:07 p.m.

Because the Republicans will vote down anything proposed by the President or the Democrats.  Even though Obama was elected to a second term by a wide majority the Republicans are determined to undermine anything the Dems try to do for the country.  Maybe things will change in 2014.  I truly believe the Republicans are on a political suicide mission, they just are to tuned in to Fox, Limbaugh, etc to realize what is happening to them.  This Congress is pathetic.

TRILLIONS spewed from a Treasury Secretary Paulson and pigmy Bush admin to rescue the fat of the land that got it’s lard fried but boy oh boy!  We certainly can’t find the dough to help the “other end of the spectrum”!
We are a total disgrace as a society and a political system!

This is just one big advertisement, you idiots. Complaining about the lefties or the righties isn’t gonna save your butt.The stock market isn’t “secure”—your “job” 4sure isn’t secure; neither is real estate,bonds or gold..theONLY security is building something NO-ONE CAN EVER TAKE AWAY FROM YOU, something RECESSION-PROOF: GETTING PAID by some of the largest companies in the world..even PG&E (here in CA) JUST FOR PAYING YOUR BILLS! You wouldn’t recognize opportunity if it bit you in the ass!  aviemet dot fhtmcentral   dot com   LIVE & LEARN!

Michael Giles

Jan. 20, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

Gee, I wonder if this was another banking system collapse how many Repubs would vote against it? None of course, because they are paid off by the banks, just as they are against the Affordable Care Act they deride as Obama care; they are paid off by the insurance companies. Who’s gonna pay em off to help the truly needy after a natural disaster? How can they profit from this?  They give whores a bad name. Repubs sell their souls for dollars. They are the most selfish egotistical inhumane bunch of hypocrites ever known, and I’ll bet there isn’t one of the sobs in Heaven! G.O.P. = Greedy Old Pirates!

It’s hard not to notice that there’s always money to bomb some foreigners, fund propaganda to be used against our own people, and chase down non-violent criminals.  The pensions of former “public servants” are never in question, no matter how many times someone like Al Gore proves he doesn’t need it by profiting wildly from laws he helped pass.  We can always bail out a company that consistently makes bad decisions, abuses its customers, and repeatedly violates the law.

But helping people?  Oh, no, that’s expensive.

We can’t have that unless everybody gets a cut, then we refuse it because other people are getting a cut.

Here’s a creepier angle on the difference between Katrina and Sandy, though:  Urban renewal.

People abandoned their homes during and after Katrina.  New Orleans (the place where aid was focused, unfortunately for anybody further up the river) was largely a ghost town.  A lot of those people haven’t returned, so in their place, a gentrified New Orleans has sprouted up in new hands.

People didn’t abandon Staten Island and Long Beach, though.  They’re still in their houses or nearby, which means that a developer can’t write his own ticket by remaking the damaged areas.

I can’t say this is what’s happening, as I don’t have any direct evidence.  But having an interest in New York history, I can’t help notice the similarity to the various wharf arsons back in the Tammany Hall days.  Destroying the tenements and having a developer rebuild and sell a high-end waterfront was a time-honored tradition, in this area.  But it doesn’t work if the people don’t leave.

So 58 of 435 voted Nay, basically a meaningless vote of defiance against what some of the 58 saw as pork filled or waste-filled bill.  Since the vote was almost all Republicans, it is perfect cannon fodder for the pro-Democrat types.  Good story as it perfectly fits the template of the mean spirited Republican.  Can’t bypass a story like that. 

But overall it will make little difference in the long run.  Back in their home districts these same Representatives (statistically speaking) are all but guaranteed re-election to their same seats.  True for the large majority of those sent to Congress. 

As long as we collectively keep sending the same people (Democrat or Republican) to Congress, we really can’t expect any real changes - can we?

This is just like the alternative minimal tax (AMT).
The state that are the most impacted are New York, New Jersey and California, states that tend to be Democratic and the incomes seem high compared to the rest of the US. But due to the actual cost of living 200K in these states equals a lot less in terms of real spending compared to the rest of the US.

The Bush 2 folks gave more money to Mississippi than Louisiana. Oh, would that be because the then governor was a GOP?

The Sandy issue is the result that they are not “red” states in addition to the NJ gov. sided with Obama before the election, although Christy was anti fed. government until NJ needed federal dollars. LOL

Vincent W. Calhoun

Jan. 22, 2013, 10:31 p.m.

Why vote to push all of us into more crushing debt when we know the Federal Government under Obama will waste the money on things that will not help the people who have suffered the damage?

Catherine Rose

Jan. 25, 2013, 4:57 p.m.

Well perhaps the Republican victims of the Aid should recuse themselves from this benefit since their republican representatives apparently feel they don’t need it or deserve it.  What planet are they living on ????

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
After the Flood

After the Flood: The Challenge of Rebuilding as the Climate Changes

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, ProPublica is investigating the response to disasters as the climate changes.

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