Coburn: Federal disaster aid took responsibility from states

Coburn stood by calls for relief funding to be offset by other budget cuts, even as his home state faces a long recovery after a devastate tornado struck towns near Oklahoma City last week.

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Even though his constituents are now the ones in need of relief, Coburn still said the federal government should not play a lead role in providing monetary assistance.

“Oklahoma’s done a great job,” he said. “We had a rainy day fund, we took money from that. We’ve had a great response from private money being donated and just the public as a whole pitching in.

“We’ve created kind of a predicate that you don’t have to be responsible for what goes on in your state,” he continued.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who was appearing on the same segment with Coburn, offered a defense of federal disaster relief, citing a $50 billion relief package that was passed last year for victims of Hurricane Sandy over Coburn’s objection.

“We’ve always had a tradition in America when the hand of God strikes in a very serious way, the localities can’t handle it by themselves and Americans ban together and say ‘we’re going to help the afflicted area,” Schumer said.

“For generations, New Yorkers have paid out to hurricane victims in Florida, tornado victims in the Oklahoma-Missouri-Alabama region, to fire damages in states west, so when Sandy hit, it took a little while [and] some people were against it, but the bottom line is America stood by us and we’re using that money well and the recovery is on its way.”

Schumer acknowledged that there have been problems in the federal government’s paying out of relief money, however.

“It’s taking a little too long for the money to flow to the home owners and small business,” he said. “We’d like to be a little quicker. I think we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s taking a while.”