Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Wednesday reiterated his opposition to a federal aid package for tornado victims without budgetary offsets, saying a bill that doesn’t include spending cuts elsewhere would saddle the children who survived the storm with additional government debt.
“The very kids that were rescued from the school, the very kids we’re interested in — why should we saddle them when we’re wasting money?”
“It’s just not an appropriate way to run the future for our children,” he added.
A massive tornado demolished the small Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on Monday, killing dozens and leaving hundreds injured and homeless. The National Weather Service said the tornado reached winds of 200 miles per hour and at times stretched across two miles of land.
Coburn has opposed disaster aid bills in the past, including the last year’s Hurricane Sandy aid package, on the grounds that the legislation was larded with costs that are unrelated to the relief efforts.
“Effectively, Oklahomans like to care for their own,” he continued.
“I think anytime we do an emergency supplemental bill, I believe we ought to pay for it. It’s hard to equate when you’re wasting at least $200 billion a year on fraud, duplication and waste in the federal government, that we would go and borrow more money rather than fix the waste. I’ve always had that position, it doesn’t matter where it is, and Oklahomans basically have that position.”
Coburn said donations to nonprofits, aid from the private sector, and work and financial assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Association were sufficient to cover the needs of those affected by the tornado.
“We’ll take the help that’s appropriate, but most of these, you know, the loss of life is the biggest concern for us and the mourning that’ll happen,” he said. “Oklahomans are so hearty, we’ll build back, we’ll come back from this, and we’ll do it in a way that makes us stronger and better.”