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SPOTLIGHT
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Disaster funding

Published on -2/1/2013, 12:51 PM

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Kansas has its share of weather-related disasters. Since 2007, $967 million worth in fact. Tornadoes, winter storms and flood events are typically the culprits. The federal portion of the total was $727 million. We can't even imagine what Greensburg would look like today without help from Washington, D.C.

We're reminded of the tax-funded assistance because victims of Superstorm Sandy finally saw their emergency aid package make it through Congress and signed into law by the president. It took three months of wrangling, while those living along storm-ravaged coastal areas in the Northeast could only sit and wait.

The fact residents had to witness political gamesmanship played out in the midst of what should have been immediate response does not speak well for decision-making in our nation's capital. The Oct. 29 superstorm wreaked havoc on a vast portion of the country, killing more than 130 and causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.

Many lawmakers were hesitant to add to the nation's growing debt problem. Understandable, except in a crisis situation. And because the crisis wasn't in their district didn't make it any less of an emergency to be dealt with. Each state has its regular share of disasters. Leaving the Northeast to contend with Sandy on its own because of financial difficulties is short-sighted. We commend those in Congress who gave the aid package their approval.

On the other hand, we have to hand it to those House Republicans who objected to unrelated items included in the original bill. It was not a stretch to say money to train Iraqi police officers, expand Amtrak operations, replant trees on private lands damaged by wildfires, roof repairs at the Smithsonian, restore drought-damaged watersheds or helping Alaskan fisheries had anything to do with Superstorm Sandy. Steadfast opposition to such non-germane items led to their removal from the package.

Even with supposed bans on earmarks, the culture of Washington is such that lawmakers continue placing projects to aid their district into unrelated legislation. Perhaps the delay in Sandy relief funds will serve the purpose of making it clear there is a faction in Congress unwilling to allow pork-style amendments -- no matter the level of emergency.

If such a transformation is taking place across both the House and Senate, we merely hope it is completed before the next disaster in Kansas strikes.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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