Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) is catching heat nationally and at home for his "no" vote on a bill to provide $.97 billion in relief to people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
An editorial published Monday by The Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., Palazzo's hometown, argued that the second-term congressman's opposition to the bill that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last week "misrepresents his district."
"Seldom has a single vote in Congress appeared as cold-blooded and hard-headed as one cast by Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., last week," the editorial read.
Palazzo was one of only 67 members, all Republicans, to vote against the measure despite publicly appealing for federal dollars in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — a point for which he was castigated in the editorial. A spokeswoman for Palazzo provided TPM with a statement following his vote last week in which she said the Gulf Coast lawmaker hopes the debate over Sandy relief will spark a "much-needed national discussion" on disaster relief reform. Palazzo will tour areas devastated by Sandy today.
More from the editorial:
No member of Congress should have been more supportive of this measure than Palazzo. As the congressional representative of Hurricane Katrina's "ground zero," Palazzo should have had nothing but sympathy and empathy for those in need of this legislation.
Certainly seven years ago he would have. As the chief financial officer for the Biloxi Public Housing Authority when Hurricane Katrina hit, Palazzo called for immediate federal relief. "Send us money," he said in 2005, "so we can put our families back together and do our part to rebuild our community."
But instead of voting to honor the nation's obligation to flood insurance policy holders in 2013, Palazzo joined 66 of his Republican colleagues in the House to vote against the bill.
The urgency he had understood so well after Katrina was gone, replaced by a call for spending reductions to offset the cost and a call for a dialogue on spending and debt.
Such a dialogue is needed. But the time and place for it is not when Americans are suffering from a natural disaster and in need of assistance only the federal government can provide.