I happen to think the Mark Pryor campaign for Senate has put together a good news release.
Against the backdrop of Arkansas firefighters dispatched to battle raging infernos in the West, the Pryor campaign goes chapter and verse through Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton’s weirdly extremist record of opposing disaster aid and cutting spending on agencies that help in times of need.
The full recitation is on the jump.
At some point, it seems to me, Tom Cotton is going to have to give an accounting of his record. (I’ve asked his office for one, but don’t expect a reply.) I may be wrong, but I’m thinking it will be hard for people in Arkansas’s tornado alley and its flood-prone regions to understand how philosophical rigor demands votes against helping a fellow American in the very worst of times.
The Cotton campaign for Senate is piling on Mark Pryor, conversely, for voting for the Affordable Care Act. Pryor recognizes this is an issue and is endeavoring to explain. Can distaste for the black president with whom universal health care is linked beat the Golden Rule?
Tom Cotton is counting on it, sounds like.
But check out the news release. It should boil down to a dandy commercial, with fire, wind and disaster from all over.
PRYOR CAMPAIGN NEWS RELEASE
Representing Arkansas Values, Pryor Sought Disaster Assistance for Neighbors in Need, a Principle Cotton has Repeatedly Opposed
Pryor’s long record of supporting critical recovery funds, both for Arkansans and others impacted by natural disasters, stands in contrast with Cotton’s votes against much-needed relief
LITTLE ROCK – Last week, NBC Nightly News featured the story of a company of Arkansas firefighters who deployed to Idaho to battle a “blaze that had grown into the most dangerous fire in the nation, putting their own safety in danger to protect nearby homes.”
From this spring’s floods to tornadoes that have carved paths of destruction across our state, Arkansans know firsthand the personal price of natural disasters and the value of a helping hand. Mark Pryor has consistently carried those values to the Senate by supporting funds for disaster assistance for Arkansas, as well as other states impacted by devastating floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. Rep. Tom Cotton, on the other hand, has repeatedly opposed even basic federal funding for those who are struggling to recover from natural disasters, leaving Arkansans and their neighbors to fend for themselves when all is lost.
“Senator Pryor knows that representing Arkansans means more than looking out for our own needs, which is why he fought to help our neighbors in Oklahoma, Louisiana and elsewhere rebuild after their communities were devastated,” said Jeff Weaver, Pryor for Senate campaign manager. “Tom Cotton’s stark record of opposing disaster relief demonstrates his misplaced priorities and a lack of understanding about the values that matter to Arkansans.”
In the Senate, Pryor has been a leader in helping communities get needed resources to respond and rebuild after devastating natural disasters. He introduced legislation, which the Senate later passed, authorizing the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to remove legal and financial obstacles that hinder states from providing food, water and emergency personnel to neighboring states, allowing officials to share resources effectively in times of crisis.
Even as he has fought to reign in federal spending in many areas, Pryor has consistently voted to fund emergency relief for victims of disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and he supported legislation granting temporary tax relief for hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi.
By supporting Arkansas’ neighbors in difficult times, Sen. Pryor has fostered goodwill that has helped Arkansans when disasters strike at home, and he has successfully sought funding that helped our own communities rebuild. In 2011, for example, FEMA designated more than $9.6 million to Arkansas after the state was hit with tornadoes and storms, funds that Pryor had requested on his state’s behalf.
In contrast, Rep. Tom Cotton has repeatedly opposed emergency relief in just seven short months in office. When a basic federal aid package came up for a vote in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Cotton was the only member of Arkansas’ congressional delegation to oppose the bill. Cotton also voted against supplemental funding for Sandy victims, once again casting Arkansas’ sole vote against it.
Later, after additional debate and deliberation over a final Sandy relief bill — during which Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole told his colleagues, “there’s clearly a federal responsibility to act… we have a national interest in getting this region on its feet as quickly as possible” — the House finally passed a bipartisan package to aid the hurricane victims. Again, Tom Cotton voted no.
In the same span, Cotton also voted specifically to block federal dollars from being used to repair seawalls damaged by the hurricane, and he voted to strike funding for Regional Ocean Partnership grants for coastal states affected by the storm.
Arkansas Company Joined Firefight In Idaho. “The Buffalo River Company from Arkansas has joined 1200 firefighters battling the Idaho blaze that grown into the most dangerous fire in the nation. NBC’s Miguel Almaguer spent a day with the crew, who are putting their own safety in danger to protect nearby homes.” [NBC News, 8/20/13]
Arkansas Firefighters Went To Northwest For Two Week Mission To Help Fight Wildfires. According to Associated Press, “Officials say 100 firefighters from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas are in Oregon to fight wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. The agency said Tuesday that moist and relatively cool conditions in the Southwest have diminished the fire danger in the region. That enabled the firefighters to be free to help out in the Northwest. Officials say the firefighters left from Fort Smith on July 24 to begin the two-week mission. They’re being housed in tents at Redmond, Ore., and sent as needed to wildfire sites. Agencies that sent firefighters include the Arkansas Forestry Commission, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies from Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Also sending firefighters are the Comanche Nation, Cherokee Nation, Choctaw Nation, Iowa Nation, Osage Nation, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.” [Associated Press, 8/6/13]
COTTON WAS THE ONLY ARKANSAS CONGRESSMAN TO VOTE AGAINST FUNDING FEMA TO COVER HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF
Cotton Was Also The Only Arkansas Congressman To Vote Against $17 Billion Basic Aid Package For Communities Affected By Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, Cotton voted against the substitute amendment that would provide $17 billion to address immediate needs relating to damage sustained from Superstorm Sandy, including $5.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, $5.4 billion to aid public transportation systems in New York and New Jersey, $3.9 billion for Department of Housing and Urban Development community development programs, $1.4 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $287 million for repairs to national parks, lands and facilities, $236 million for Veterans Affairs medical activities and construction projects, $144 million for Coast Guard acquisition and construction, $100 million for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund and $100 million for Small Business Administration disaster loans. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 327-91. According to Pine Bluff Commercial, “The House voted 327-91 for the basic $17 billion aid package. Crawford, Griffin and Womack voted for the bill. Cotton voted against it.” [Pine Bluff Commercial, 1/18/13; HR 152, Vote #15, 1/15/13]
Cotton Was One Of 67 Republicans – The Only One From His Delegation – To Oppose Supplemental Funding For FEMA To Cover Damage Claims From Hurricane Sandy. The Pine Bluff Commercial reported: “Rep. Tom Cotton , R-Dardanelle, voted Friday against legislation that would ensure the federal government has the money to pay flood insurance claims resulting from Hurricane Sandy. Cotton was one of 67 House Republicans to oppose the measure allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to borrow $9.7 billion to cover damage claims from the storm that ravaged New York, New Jersey and Connecticut two months ago. Reps. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted in favor of the bill. The Senate swiftly approved it by voice vote – with no objections.” [Pine Bluff Commercial, 1/4/13; Vote 7, 1/4/13]
Cotton Voted For The Club For Growth-Backed Mulvaney Amendment That Would Cut $17 Billion From All Federal Agencies To Pay For Natural Disaster Aid. The Pine Bluff Commercial reported in January 2013: “An amendment by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., sought to offset $17 billion with a 1.63 percent across the board cut from all federal agencies. ‘The time has come and gone in this nation when we can walk in here one day and spend $9 billion or $17 billion or $60 billion and not think about who’s paying for it,’ Mulvaney said. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., responded by calling the proposed cuts ‘extreme.’ He noted Congress has not offset spending for past natural emergencies. The Mulvaney amendment was backed by the Club for Growth, an interest group that backs conservatives for federal office and issues report cards on how Congress votes on fiscal matters. The amendment was defeated, 162-258. Cotton and Griffin voted for it while Crawford and Womack voted against it.” [Pine Bluff Commercial, 1/18/13]
Republican Congressman Rogers: Traditionally Emergency Funding For Natural Disasters Did Not Require Offsets; Club For Growth Backed Cuts “Extreme.” “Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., responded by calling the proposed cuts ‘extreme.’ He noted Congress has not offset spending for past natural emergencies. The Mulvaney amendment was backed by the Club for Growth, an interest group that backs conservatives for federal office and issues report cards on how Congress votes on fiscal matters. The amendment was defeated, 162-258. Cotton and Griffin voted for it while Crawford and Womack voted against it.” [Pine Bluff Commercial, 1/18/13]
Cotton Also Opposed The Final Sandy Relief Bill, Which Authorized Approximately $50 Billion In Relief. The Pine Bluff Commercial reported in January 2013: “The House extended $50 billion in assistance to victims of Hurricane Sandy following debate last week over the amount of aid and whether it should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Lawmakers voted 241-180 for a bill that began as $17 billion for the immediate needs of East Coast communities hit by the October storm, then was expanded with $33.7 billion for long term flood control and other projects. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, voted for the final bill. Reps. Tom Cotton , R-Dardenelle, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, voted against it.” [Pine Bluff Commercial, 1/18/13; HR 152, Vote #23, 1/15/13]
Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole: “There’s Clearly A Federal Responsibility To Act. We Have A National Interest In Getting This Region On Its Feet As Quickly As Possible.” In January 2013, the Huffington Post reported: “The relief measure provides billions of dollars to repair flood-damaged transit systems in New York and New Jersey, and $5.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, which provides cash grants directly to storm victims. Tens of billions of dollars are also allocated for long-term flood control and recovery projects. ‘There’s clearly a federal responsibility to act,’ said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.). ‘We have a national interest in getting this region on its feet as quickly as possible.’” [Huffington Post, 1/15/13]
Cotton Voted Against Adding $33.7 Billion to Hurricane Sandy Disaster Supplemental for Long-Term Recovery Efforts. In 2013, Cotton voted against an amendment that would add $33.7 billion for long-term recovery and mitigation spending to address damage from Superstorm Sandy. The total includes $12.2 billion for Department of Housing and Urban Development community development activities; $6.1 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund; $5.5 billion for transit support; $4 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects; $700 million for social services programs; and $474 million for repairs to national parks, wildlife refuges and facilities. It also includes an additional $2 billion to repair federal-aid highways. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 228-192. [CQ; HR 152, Vote #22, 1/15/13]
Cotton Voted to Block Fish and Wildlife Service Funding From Being Used to Repair Seawalls and Buildings in McKinney National Wildlife Refuge Damaged by Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, Cotton voted for an amendment that would bar Fish and Wildlife Service construction funding from being used to repair seawalls or buildings on islands in the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. It also would decrease by $9.8 million the amount for Fish and Wildlife Service construction. The underlying bill would add $33.7 billion for long-term recovery and mitigation spending to address damage from Superstorm Sandy. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 216-205. [CQ; HR 152, Vote #19, 1/15/13]
Cotton Voted to Eliminate $13 Million for National Weather Service Ground Readiness Project. In 2013, Cotton voted for an amendment that would strike $13 million to accelerate the National Weather Service ground readiness project. The underlying bill would add $33.7 billion for long-term recovery and mitigation spending to address damage from Superstorm Sandy. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 206-214. [CQ; HR 152, Vote #17, 1/15/13]
Cotton Voted to Eliminate $150 Million for Regional Ocean Partnership Grants to Coastal States Affected By Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, Cotton voted for an amendment that would strike $150 million for Regional Ocean Partnership grants to coastal states affected by Superstorm Sandy. The Frelinghuysen amendment would add $33.7 billion for long-term recovery and mitigation spending to address storm damage. The amendment was adopted by a vote of 221-197. [CQ; HR 152, Vote #16, 1/15/13]
SENATOR PRYOR BELIEVES ARKANSAS SHOULD LEND A HELPING HAND TO OTHER STATES WHEN DISASTER STRIKES
Pryor Said Getting Disaster Relief To Those In Need Was First Priority In Natural Disaster Response. According to Talk Business, “In the Wednesday interview, KASU’s Mark Smith asked Pryor if he agreed with the stance of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn (R ), who has said that disaster aid for tornado victims should be offset with other cuts to the federal budget. ‘I agree with him in the abstract – that’s a great thing to do – but some of these things you just can’t plan for,’ said Pryor. ‘I think we can do a better job of budgeting for disasters. That’s one thing I’m going to try to do in the ag [agriculture] appropriations bill is try to build in some disaster money in there. It should be in the budget. We should know that we’re going to need that money from time to time.’ Pryor added, ‘With all due respect to Sen. Coburn, I know it’s his home state, but if we have to get it done without doing an offset, I think we need to get it done. I think getting it done is more important than trying to figure out all the budget craziness right now.’” [Talk Business, 5/23/13]
Senate Passed Pryor Introduced Bill To Reauthorize Emergency Management Assistance Compact That Would Allow Neighboring States To Help During A Crisis. According to The Associated Press State & Local Wire, “Sen. Mark Pryor on Thursday introduced a bill that would reauthorize a program that allows states to provide help to each other by sharing emergency responders when natural or man-made disasters occur. ‘The Emergency Management Assistance Compact removes the legal and financial obstacles that states face when providing assistance to a neighbor in need. As a result, we see a more immediate and effective response effort to distribute food and water, restore electricity, remove debris and help devastated towns recover,’ said Pryor, D-Ark. ‘In reauthorizing the compact, we should also provide line-item funding that will strengthen a state’s ability to plan, train and track its assets during a disaster,’ he said. Pryor said the act to reauthorize the Emergency Management Assistance Compact would open the way for first responders to keep providing emergency services to a neighboring state when that state has a situation greater than its own responders can handle. Under the present law, states will recognize professional licenses and permits for professional skills held by responders who come from other states to help. The measure also provides liability protection. Pryor’s bill would authorize $4 million from fiscal year 2010 to fiscal year 2012 to improve operations and coordination among state governments. The money will also provide training to first responders. The bill calls for development of a tracking system for assets that are used in addressing disasters and for holding coordinated exercises across state lines.” The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on July 14, 2010. [Associated Press, 6/18/09; S.1288, Library of Congress, 7/14/10]
Pryor Voted For Temporary Tax Relief For Areas Struck By Hurricanes In Louisiana And Mississippi. On April 4, 2008, Senator Pryor voted for the motion to waive the Budget Act with respect to amendment No. 4389 to H.R. 3221, Housing Foreclosure Prevention. The Landrieu amendment “would allow taxpayers in Louisiana and Mississippi who took a hurricane-related casualty loss deduction in 2005 and received a grant to cover uninsured property losses in 2007 to amend their 2005 tax returns to disallow the casualty loss deduction without interest or penalties.” The motion to waive was agreed to by a vote of 74-5. Senator Lincoln voted yes. [CQ Floor Votes, Senate Vote 92, 4/4/08]
2013: Pryor Voted For Passage Of $50 Billion Emergency Spending Bill To Help The Northeast Recover From Hurricane Sandy. On January 28, 2013, Mark Pryor for passage of a bill that would “provide about $50.5 billion for communities hit by Superstorm Sandy. Nearly all funding would be designated as emergency spending exempt from discretionary caps, except for $5.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund. The bill would include about $11.5 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, $10.9 billion for transit systems, $16 billion for Department of Housing and Urban Development community development programs, $5.4 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, $708 million for repairs to national parks, wildlife refuges and facilities, $234 million for Veterans Affairs medical activities and construction projects, $274 million for Coast Guard projects and $520 million for Small Business Administration disaster loans.” The bill passed 62-36.. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote 4, 1/28/13]
2012: Pryor Voted For Hurricane Sandy Relief Emergency Spending. On December 28, 2012, Senator Pryor voted for passage of H.R. 1, Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations, 2013. The bill would “would provide $60.4 billion in emergency spending for communities hit by Superstorm Sandy, including an additional $9.7 billion in borrowing authority for the National Flood Insurance Program, $13 billion for mitigation projects, $11.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund and $10.8 billion to the Federal Transit Administration to rebuild public transit systems. As amended the bill would provide $17 billion for the Community Development Fund, with $500 million designated for regions that suffered major disasters or for “small, economically distressed areas” with less severe calamities in 2011 and 2012. The bill would allow the transfer of previously appropriated foreign affairs funds to pay for increased security at U.S. embassies and other overseas posts.” The bill passed 62-32. [CQ Floor Votes, Senate Vote 248, 12/28/12]
Pryor Voted Against Reducing Sandy Aid By $36.6 Billion. On December 28, 2012, Senator Pryor voted against amendment No. 3391 to H.R. 1, Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Appropriations, 2013. The amendment “would provide $23.8 billion in emergency funding for communities hit by Superstorm Sandy. It would eliminate $13 billion in mitigation funds and spending on a variety of programs outside of the North Atlantic coastal region. The substitute would provide $60.4 billion in emergency spending for communities hit by Superstorm Sandy, including an additional $9.7 billion in borrowing authority for the National Flood Insurance Program, $13 billion for mitigation projects, $11.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund and $10.8 billion to the Federal Transit Administration to rebuild public transit systems.” The amendment was rejected by a vote of 41-54. [CQ Floor Votes, Senate Vote 247, 12/28/12]
Pryor For Katrina Recovery Package. On September 8, 2005, Mark Pryor for passage of an emergency spending bill to help recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina. The bill “would appropriate $51.8 billion in fiscal 2005 supplemental spending for disaster relief to areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. The bill would provide $50 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, $1.4 billion for the Defense Department and $400 million for the Army Corps of Engineers.” The bill passed 97-0. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #223, 9/8/05]
Pryor Voted To Help Small Business Owners, Homeowners, And Renters Recover From Hurricane Katrina. On September 15, 2005, Senator Pryor voted for an amendment that “would provide $595 million in disaster aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina through modified Small Business Administration programs for small businessowners, homeowners and renters. The funds would be designated as emergency spending.” The amendment passed 96-0. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #233, 9/15/05]
Pryor Voted To Help States Affected By Hurricane Katrina Pay For The Care Of Their Poor And Elderly Citizens. On November 3, 2005, Senator Pryor voted for a motion to waive the Budget Act with respect the point of order against a Lincoln amendment that “would grant access to Medicaid to Hurricane Katrina victims for five months; provide full federal funding for Medicaid in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for one year and provide other health care assistance for the hurricane victims. It would be paid for with unspent Federal Emergency Management Agency funds.” The motion failed 48-51. [CQ Floor Votes; Senate Vote #285, 11/3/05]
AND SENATOR PRYOR EXPECTS SUPPORT WHEN ARKANSAS NEEDS HELP RECOVERING FROM NATURAL DISASTERS
There Have Been 21 Natural Disaster Declarations Since Senator Pryor Was Sworn Into Office. Since January 3, 2003, Arkansas has declared received 21 major disaster or emergency declarations from FEMA, as of August 2013. [Disaster Declarations by State, FEMA.gov, 8/25/13]
FEMA Provided More Than $9.6 Million In Disaster Assistance To Arkansas In 2011 After The State Was Hit By Severe Storms And Tornadoes. In January 2013, the Log Cabin Democrat reported: “FEMA provided more than $9.6 million in disaster assistance to Arkansas in 2011 after it was hit by severe April storms and tornadoes.” [Log Cabin Democrat, 1/4/13]
2011: Pryor Signed Letter Requesting Disaster Assistance For 52 Counties After Tornadoes And Storms. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “Eight additional Arkansas counties were designated for federal disaster assistance targeted to cities and counties Friday to help with recovery from flooding, storms and tornadoes in April and May. The counties added to the May 2 disaster declaration – Bradley, Jackson, Lee, Lonoke, Mississippi, Prairie, St. Francis and Woodruff – are eligible to receive public-assistance funds to help with the cleanup of debris and repairs of infrastructure damaged by storms. In all, 52 Arkansas counties can receive either public or individual assistance funds. Gov. Mike Beebe also has requested federal disaster declarations for Franklin and Johnson counties, which received damage from two May 26 tornadoes. Federal Emergency Management Agency teams completed tours of the two counties Friday to compile damage estimates, said Bob Howard, an agency spokesman in Little Rock. “It’s following the normal process,” Howard said of Beebe’s request for the federal aid. He did not know if President Barack Obama would include the two counties in the federal declaration. Arkansas’ two U.S. senators and four congressmen wrote letters to Obama and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate on Thursday, urging them for a “quick, comprehensive response” for federal assistance for Johnson and Franklin counties. ‘As you know, the state of Arkansas and its rural districts are working tirelessly to save lives and begin the process of cleaning up and ultimately rebuilding,’ stated the letter signed by Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman and Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, Steve Womack and Mike Ross.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 6/4/11]
2007: Pryor Called For Low Interest Small Business Administration Loans And Trailers From FEMA For Victims Of Tornadoes In Dumas, AR. According to Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, “U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor visited this crippled community Saturday morning, vowing to continue pressing for federal assistance as the first of 30 mobile homes and travel trailers arrived shortly before noon. The Democrats from Arkansas said they hope the U.S. Small Business Administration would grant a request for federal assistance this week to provide low-interest loans for business owners seeking to rebuild. ‘We’re here and dedicated to helping with the rebuilding of this community,’ Lincoln said at a gathering of about 50 people, including news media, outside Dumas City Hall. ‘We’ll put every ounce of energy and enthusiasm, as well as our power we have in Washington, to make that a reality.’ Gov. Mike Beebe requested a disaster declaration through the federal agency after the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday denied one for Desha County after a Feb. 24 tornado destroyed 25 businesses and either damaged or destroyed about 100 homes in Dumas. FEMA did, however, agree to make available fully furnished mobile homes and travel trailers to residents whose homes were destroyed. Standing before the same crowd as Lincoln, Pryor said he would call Small Business Administrator Steven C. Preston on Monday morning ‘to make sure we have his attention on this.’ Pryor said the agency offers two or three programs that provide low-interest loans, noting that the Small Business Administration has a separate standard and model from FEMA when deciding to provide disaster assistance. The Enhanced Fujita 3 tornado put about 650 people out of work and cut through the heart of the city’s business district on U.S. 65, destroying The Mad Butcher grocery store, a Fred’s discount store and several smaller businesses. The storm also heavily damaged a pet-food manufacturer and an auto-supply business on South Main Street. ‘The disaster here looks like it’s a textbook case on why the SBA can do these low-interest loans and can help these businesses get back on their feet,’ Pryor said.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 3/11/07]