Pennsylvania’s Republican delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives was divided geographically when it came to the Hurricane Sandy relief package that passed the chamber on Tuesday night.
Five GOP members, whose districts are entirely or primarily in the western half of the commonwealth, including the area’s two congressmen, Rep. Keith Rothfus in the 12th and Rep. Bill Shuster in the 9th, voted against the measure. Meanwhile, six of their party brethren from the eastern side of the state, which was hit much harder by the superstorm in October, supported the $50.7 billion aid package. Only two Republicans from the east opposed the legislation.
The bill passed by a count of 241-180.
Rothfus cast a nay vote because the cost was not offset by spending cuts in other areas. Shuster did not issue a statement about his decision.
“Unfortunately, the package voted on (on Tuesday) results in another $50 billion borrowed from our kids and grandkids,” said Rothfus. “Moving forward, I will work with my colleagues to craft better ways to budget and pay for future natural disaster relief.”
Shuster previously supported a separate $9.7 billion Sandy relief package on Jan. 4. Rothfus opposed that funding, too. That first phase of the financial assistance was supported in the House by a vote of 354-67.
Pennsylvania is eligible for some of the overall $60.4 billion of funds allocated.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced money would be made available for local governments and certain nonprofits that took preparedness steps in advance of the storm or suffered damage to facilities. Bedford and Somerset counties were on the list. Somerset is divided between the 9th and 12th districts.
Bedford is completely in the 9th.
“Congressman Rothfus supports federal disaster assistance for affected communities,” said Edward Yap, Rothfus’ communication director. “He simply believes we need to try to pay for our government. The congressman plans to work with his colleagues to develop a better way to plan and pay for disaster response and relief in the future for the benefit of affected citizens in Pennsylvania and across the nation.”
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