Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) attacked the House’s No. 2 Republican from the Senate floor on Wednesday for insisting that any federal disaster relief money directed to her tornado-stricken state must first be offset by other budget cuts.
"There is no question we have to be careful about the way we spend federal money, but with all due respect to Congressman Cantor, I have a hard time believing that if this were in his congressional district he would be talking about how additional disaster relief would not be available unless we found some other program to take it from," McCaskill said.
"If there is support for a supplemental spending measure, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental," Cantor said.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday began the process of making that happen by approving a disaster aid package for fiscal year 2012 that would be financed by a $1.5 billion cut from a loan program to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles.
"It must be available," insisted McCaskill from the floor. "This cannot be a political football. We must provide the assistance. [W]hat federal tax dollars are for is to provide assistance when there is no assistance available for communities because of the wrath of Mother Nature.”