White House takes shot at Rep. Cantor over Hurricane Irene disaster aid

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday took a shot at House Republican Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorBottom line Virginia GOP candidates for governor gear up for convention Cantor: 'Level of craziness' in Washington has increased 'on both sides' MORE for insisting disaster aid for Hurricane Irene should be offset with other spending cuts.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Carney said the federal government’s priority should be to respond to the disaster. He also noted that Cantor (R-Va.) hadn’t demanded offsets when the Bush administration rang up “unprecedented bills.”


“I guess I can’t help but say that I wish that commitment to looking for offsets had been held by the House majority leader and others, say, during the previous administration when they ran up unprecedented bills and never paid for them,” Carney said, according to a White House pool report.

The White House spokesman said it was premature to make a decision yet on the costs of Hurricane Irene for the federal government. “The principle (is) that when we’re having a natural disaster and an emergency situation ... our priority has to be responding to the disaster and helping those regions and states recover,” Carney said.

Cantor signaled Monday he wants any spending on Irene to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.

“Yes, we are going to find the money. We are just going to have to make sure there are savings elsewhere to continue to do so,” Cantor said on Fox News.

Given the possible costs of Irene, a disaster aid package could wipe out other savings Republicans have won for the fiscal year. But congressional aides said some Republicans do not think disaster aid should be offset.