Reports: Romney ducks questions on FEMA funding

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Romney, in a July 2011 GOP primary debate, appeared to support giving FEMA's responsibilities to the states or the private sector. Democrats have seized on the comments and The New York Times blasted Romney in a Tuesday editorial, arguing that disaster response would be a mess without federal coordination. 

The Washington Post reported that several reporters demanded Romney clarify his stance on Tuesday.

“Governor, you’ve been asked 14 times. Why are you refusing to answer the question?” one reporter asked, according to the report. 

The liberal website The Huffington Post quoted a pool report:

“'Gov are you going to eliminate FEMA?' a print pooler shouted, receiving no response. Wires reporters asked more questions about FEMA that were ignored. Romney kept coming over near pool to pick up more water. He ignored these questions,” the pool report reads.

On Monday, his campaign clarified to The Hill that Romney supports more say for states, but envisions keeping FEMA.

Disaster aid has been a political football in the 112th Congress. House Republicans said that waste can be cut from the FEMA first responder grant program and they have reduced it by 43 percent since 2010. Democrats decried those cuts and spared some $300 million in cuts last year.

FEMA has enough funding for now to deal with Hurricane Sandy, congressional aides told The Hill on Tuesday. 

Democrats argue that in order to enact the budget of GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), or Mitt Romney's own plan, which entails steeper cuts, FEMA would have to be reduced as well. Romney wants to balance the federal budget in eight years while Ryan sought to balance it by 2040 using $5 trillion in spending cuts in the first ten years. 

Republicans and Democrats blame each other for the looming across-the-board sequester cuts coming in January, which would also hit FEMA to the tune of $882 million. 

Those cuts are a result of the failed 2011 supercommittee process, and both sides say they want to replace the sequester. The standoff now is whether the replacement will include tax increases, as President Obama has demanded.