CNN fact checks Texas GOP Rep live on air after he parrots Ted Cruz excuse to deny Sandy funding
Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX) was one of the 22 members of the Texas delegation that voted against federal funding to help states in the northeast after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. Now he’s begging for help from those he once voted against helping.
In an interview with CNN’s Jim Acosta, Weber parroted the excuse used by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Monday during an MSNBC interview. Weber claimed that the funding bill was “loaded with pork,” referring to pork-barrel spending. The term comes from a metaphor about pork-fat that refers to local projects that have nothing to do with the bill itself, but are added on to get members to vote in support.
“I was very clear at the time that there was additional measures thrown in that bill,” Weber alleged. He cited Smithsonian Institute costs, parks and $1 million in upgrades and build a highway in the Virgin Islands.
However, a fact check of that refutes the charge.
The $60 billion funding legislation came in two parts at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013. The first was a $9.7 billion increase in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) ability to borrow flood relief. The second funding bill came in Jan. 2013 with $50.5 billion in aid for individuals whose homes were damaged as well as businesses who experienced heavy losses. It helped replenish shorelines, repair subways and commuter rails, bridges, tunnels and reimbursed cash-strapped municipalities for liquidating their emergency spending.
As the Washington Post notes, only nine Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the final funding bill for Sandy survivors. Now, the chickens are coming home to roost for Texas Republicans who played politics in a desperate time of need. As those political leaders clamor are now in the position those in the northeast were then.
The Congressional Budget Office published a detailed report (PDF) about where the funding went and virtually none went to pork-projects that had nothing to do with Sandy.
The storm itself stretched from the Caribbean all the way to New York and New Jersey as well as Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institute suffered serious roof leaks from heavy rain and wind, which damaged the roof as well as priceless artifacts inside the building. The Post explained the shoreline near Launch Pods 39A and B at the Kennedy Space Center suffered serious erosion, putting the ocean less than a quarter of a mile away. They used $15 million to help build a sand barrier and repair the facility on Wallops Island in Virginia. There were no funding items that went to the Virgin Islands even listed.
“What we understand from looking into this this morning, there really wasn’t very much pork at all in that bill,” Acosta told Weber. “There had been a couple of fact-check reports to come out just today saying there wasn’t really much of any pork in that legislation. There was some additional spending on other items, but it was very small, with respect to and compared to the vast majority of that funding, which did go to disaster relief. Are you hopeful this time that people don’t play politics with this sort of thing?”
Weber said he was optimistic his colleagues wouldn’t throw the vote against Sandy funding in his face.
“In a perfect world, obviously, things are thrown into bills you don’t like,” Acosta followed up. “In hindsight, though, do you think you should have voted for that Sandy legislation, and do you maybe have convincing to do with some colleagues have to look some colleagues in the face from up in the northeast and say, ‘look, I know I voted against this back then but I need your help now?”
Weber could only say he’d have that discussion with his colleagues but thinks most of them would understand.
Watch the full interview below: