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Sandy relief: No place for politics?

January 16. 2013 11:21PM

If it is morally wrong to oppose emergency relief legislation for purely political reasons, then what would you call it when politicians make such bills harder to pass by slipping non-emergency spending into them for purely political reasons?

The U.S. House finally passed a Hurricane Sandy relief bill on Tuesday. New Hampshire's two members of Congress, Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster, voted for the bill. Afterward, they issued statements.

"There is no place for politics when helping our communities recover from a disaster," Shea-Porter said. Kuster said, "I'm pleased that members of both parties were able to put politics aside to get this done."

If there is "no place for politics" in disaster relief legislation, then why did the bill include, in the words of Time magazine, "some $12 billion in long-term development projects that was open to nearly all states"? Why did it include funding for the Smithsonian Institution?

It took so long to pass Sandy relief because it had been stuffed with unrelated spending that would have been harder to pass were it not attached to an emergency relief bill. Republicans got some of the unrelated spending removed, but billions remained. For trying to keep the bill limited to direct Sandy aid, they were accused of playing politics with hurricane relief.

And politicians wonder why they are held in such low regard.

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