PoliticMo reports that Roy Blunt is up in arms about reports that a portion of the disaster relief funds promised to aid the Joplin recovery might be delayed so that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can address the devastation caused by Hurricane Irene. Where Senator McCaskill, for her part, expresses resolve to “fight to make sure” that Joplin gets its due, Blunt directs his rhetorical attack directly at FEMA:
If FEMA can’t fulfill its promise to our state because we have other disasters, that’s unacceptable, and we need to take a serious look at how our disaster response policies are funded and implemented.
The situation in Joplin is serious and we all expect both McCaskill and Blunt to do their best to insure that it is adequately addressed. Nevertheless, the focus of Blunt’s pugnacious response does prompt a few questions:
— Why is Blunt questioning implementation? The issue here seems to be one of funding pure and simple. If nature persists in dumping one disaster after another on the United States, we will have to ration relief funds if they aren’t adequate. But when it comes to implementation, the consensus of reasonable people seems to be that the current FEMA, as opposed to the bad old Bush FEMA, seems to be doing an excellent job and can be expected to continue to so so as long as sufficient funds are available.
— In view of the primacy of the funding issue, what does Blunt have to say to GOP party leaders, like Eric Cantor, who are willing to continue to hold the well-being of Americans hostage, this time by making disaster relief contingent upon ideologically driven spending cuts, cuts that in many instances make us less able to respond to disasters in the first place?
— What does he say to those of his GOP confrères, such as Ron Paul, who are loudly trumpeting their desire to do away with or seriously weaken FEMA?
Given these facts, the real question is whether Blunt is huffing and puffing about FEMA in order to gain political points at home while undercutting the excellent job that the Obama administration has done in rehabilitating the agency, or whether he’s really willing to blow down the GOP House that is proposing to pull the legs out from under the agency at a crucial time. How can we know the answer? Easy – when Blunt shows that he can stand up to the Tea Party brigade and support strings-free funding of FEMA, we’ll know just how sincere he really is.