Sanders Blasts House Vote on Disaster Aid

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 - Sen. Bernie Sanders denounced a stopgap spending measure that the House passed after midnight this morning saying it would shortchange disaster assistance for Vermont.

"Republicans for the first time in the modern history of this country are denying emergency relief to states that have been devastated by disasters.  They should be ashamed," Sanders said.

Heavy flooding on Aug. 27 from the remnants of Hurricane Irene caused up to $1 billion in damage in Vermont.

"The name of our country is the United States of America," Sanders said. "If that name means anything, it means that when disaster strikes one part of the country, we rally as a nation to support each other." 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the House measure was "not an honest effort at compromise," adding that "it will be rejected by the Senate."

Sanders sharply criticized House Republican demands to treat recovery funds differently than the way Congress has funded disaster relief for decades.  The switch would require disaster aid to be offset by cuts in other programs.

"These people called for no offsets when they bailed out Wall Street with $700 billion, no offsets when they expanded the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that cost $160 billion every year, including for rebuilding those countries, and no offsets when they gave huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and the largest corporations. But when it comes to helping families in Vermont and New Jersey and elsewhere, they now want a major budget debate," Sanders said.