Maness: I would have opposed Katrina relief

Louisiana Senate hopeful Rob Maness takes a hard line on spending issues, even when it comes to Hurricane Katrina relief funding.

The retired Air Force colonel told The Hill in an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference that he wouldn’t have voted for the $51.8 billion aid package that helped Louisiana residents rebuild after the storm devastated the Louisiana Gulf Coast in 2005.

Maness is the underdog in an open Senate primary trying to take on Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), though he isn't the favorite of establishment Republicans who think Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is their best shot at knocking off the vulnerable Democrat. 

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The conservative hopeful’s opposition to the relief bill puts him in a similar camp as another Gulf Coast candidate. Last week, Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who’s looking to knock off Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in the GOP primary, came under fire after hedging on whether he would have voted for the bill. 

But while McDaniel said he didn’t know how he would have voted, calling the massive bill not an “easy vote to cast,” Maness says he would have voted no. The aid package was passed with little opposition after the storm but has since drawn scrutiny because of reports of waste and fraud in the program.

“Just like I wouldn’t have voted for the [Hurricane] Sandy [aid] bill that had $60 billion dollars, I believe, in bloated special interest spending in it, I wouldn’t have voted for that bill either because you’ve gotta start holding on principle and stop spending so much money,” he said. “Our country’s got a spending problem, it doesn’t have a revenue problem.”

Maness also said he wouldn’t vote for a flood insurance bill currently making its way through Congress, which both Landrieu and Cassidy have worked on in their respective chambers. The bill would provide relief to coastal residents who are facing skyrocketing flood insurance prices due to an earlier bill that was meant to make the federal flood insurance program solvent.

Maness said while Congress has a “moral obligation to the citizens that we forced to buy federal government flood insurance to not price them out of their homes,” the new bill is not the answer — and in fact, the government shouldn’t be involved at all in the flood insurance industry.

“I would stand on principle and not support that fix, and come up with a viable alternative that keeps people from being priced out of their homes based on the Biggert-Waters Bill and the poorly-constructed FEMA maps, and put into the bill a solution to fix national flood insurance so the federal government’s no longer in that business,” he said.

He slammed the federal money already sunk into the federal flood insurance program and said the funding issues mean “it doesn’t work.”

“Let’s stop throwing good money after bad and get a free-market solution out there so the citizens of Louisiana, and all the other coastal states, don’t have to worry about this issue,” he said.

Those positions likely put him counter to many residents in Louisiana, but squarely in line with the conservative wing of the GOP that he’s trying to court in his race. He's been endorsed by the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project. 

Still, Maness said it’s his willingness to buck the political expedient and stand on principle that makes him the best choice in the race.

“If you want people that are gonna make decisions based on politics, you have this crowd of candidates over here to my left. And if you want somebody that’s gonna make principled decisions based on the Constitution, then Rob Maness is in the center on the constitution — slightly center-right, because I do have social conservative values,” he said.

 

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