DFL Congressman Tim Walz joined fellow Democrats today in voting against a measure that would provide $3.7 billion for disaster relief and prevent a government shutdown. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the measure this morning. The delay in approving funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) means flood buyouts for homes severely damaged in last year's floods are on hold.
So why did Walz vote no? Walz's spokeswoman Sara Severs said the congressman wants to see more funding for federal disaster aid. He favors a proposal by Senate Democrats that would allocate $7 billion for FEMA. The congressman issued the following statement:
"In southern Minnesota, we know what it feels like to start recovering from a natural disaster. And whether it's a tornado that touches down in Minnesota, an earthquake that hits California, a hurricane that hits Florida or a fire blazes across Texas, disasters affect us all.
I voted against this legislation because I believe it fails to give FEMA the tools to meet the needs of Americans. There are communities in my district who are still waiting for FEMA funds and unless we get FEMA adequate resources, I cannot be sure southern Minnesota communities will see that help. I am asking my colleagues to put partisan politics aside, come up with a common-sense compromise so we can rebuild all our communities hit by disaster."
Congress has until Sept. 30 to reach a compromise in order to avoid a government shutdown. Senate Democrats have voiced opposition to the House bill, which offsets the cost of disaster relief funding with spending cuts for a government loan program to help car companies build fuel-efficient vehicles.