South Carolina Republicans Joe Wilson, Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan are three of the 67 GOP congressmen who voted against a $9.7 billion disaster relief bill for victims of Hurricane Sandy. This is despite the fact that South Carolina is often affected by natural disasters itself, though lawmakers are perfectly happy to accept disaster funding in those cases.
The Hurricane Sandy aid package was the first part of the $60.4 billion in disaster relief requested by President Obama for the New York and New Jersey area. It passed the House overwhelmingly on Friday by a vote of 354-67, with three of the “no” votes coming from the Palmetto State.
In the last 30 years, South Carolina has had 13 major disaster declarations and two emergency declarations, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The worst storm to hit the Palmetto State, Hurricane Hugo in 1989, caused over $7 billion in damage and left nearly 60,000 people homeless.
When South Carolina suffered a severe drought in 2003, Rep. Wilson was more than happy to announce federal disaster relief from the Department of Agriculture. In 2005, he voted in favor of a $10.5 billion aid package for areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
“The compassion, generosity, and solidarity of the American people during difficult times are one of our most cherished blessings as citizens of our great nation,” Rep. Wilson said about the Katrina relief bill.” As we now face the severity of this historic natural disaster, Americans must do what we do best: help each other.”
My, what a difference eight years makes!
In addition to voting against the interests of common sense and human decency, Wilson and the other GOP congressmen are also voting against the wishes of their own constituents. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy back in October, a YouGov survey found that 64 percent of Americans — including 48 percent of Republicans — believe the federal government should provide assistance to communities impacted by natural disasters.
This isn’t the only unpopular vote cast by South Carolina Republicans in the past week. On Tuesday, every one of South Carolina’s House delegation — except for Jim Clyburn, the only Democrat — voted to send the economy over the ‘fiscal cliff’ by voting against the deal reached by congressional leaders.
The deal let the Bush tax cuts expire for households making more than $450,000 a year, but kept them in place for less wealthy Americans. If the deal had fallen through, taxes would have gone up for everyone — likely sending the economy back into recession.
“If you voted for this, you bought into this whole idea that it’s OK to let tax rates go up on one group of Americans,” commented Rep. Duncan. But by voting against the fiscal cliff deal, Duncan and the rest of South Carolina’s Republican congressmen make clear that the interests of the wealthy outweigh the interests of everyone else. It’s the same way with hurricane relief, where political gamesmanship takes precedence over the needs of everyday Americans.