Pence Held Hurricane Katrina Relief Funds Hostage to Push His Political Agenda

Congress must ensure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren.”

That’s then-Rep. Mike Pence in 2005, fearmongering about the federal debt as justification for his efforts to hold Hurricane Katrina relief funding hostage so he could push for Medicare spending cuts and other goals on his political agenda.

It’s telling what Pence did — or didn’t do — when he had a chance to help people in the wake of a natural disaster. When it came down to it, Pence decided his political agenda was more important than helping people in Louisiana who had lost everything; he unapologetically tried to hold essential relief funding hostage so he could go after equally crucial earned benefits that millions of American seniors rely on.

Pence’s actions in the wake of Katrina are a cautionary tale of how a Trump-Pence administration would act in the wake of a natural disaster.

Trump’s made a career of putting himself first, no matter who gets hurt in the process, and his erratic personality and consistently unsound judgment raise serious concerns that he’d actually be counter-productive in a time of crisis. There’s no question Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be commander-in-chief, and in light of Mike Pence’s politicization of Katrina relief funding, there’s no reason to believe Pence is any better prepared.

Background:

Pence Held Up Hurricane Katrina Funding To Push For Spending Cuts To Medicare

Pence used the need for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief funding as an excuse to promote his conservative agenda and reduce “the size and scope of the government.”

Pence presented his “operation offset” plan to provide Hurricane Katrina disaster relief while cutting other areas of government spending. In order to pay for Katrina relief, Pence proposed delaying a $40 billion prescription drug for seniors and suspending Davis-Bacon wage requirements.

Pence Used Hurricane Katrina As An Excuse To Push Conservative Agenda On Government Spending

September 2005: Pence Suggested Cutting Programs Like Social Security And Medicare To Pay For Rebuilding After Katrina

Mike Pence Suggested Making Cuts To Programs Like Social Security And Medicare To Pay For The Rebuilding Of The Gulf Cost After Hurricane Katrina. In an editorial The Star Press wrote, “Paying the tremendous cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina could come from entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare, Congressman Mike Pence suggested Friday.” [Star Press, 9/17/05]

Pence Said Funding It Without Cutting Spending Other Places Would “Take A Catastrophe Of Nature And Turn It Into A Catastrophe Of Debt”

Mike Pence: “It Is Not Acceptable To Take A Catastrophe Of Nature And Turn It Into A Catastrophe Of Debt.” In an editorial The Star Press wrote, “‘It is not acceptable to take a catastrophe of nature and turn it into a catastrophe of debt,’ Pence said during a local briefing on the hurricane disaster and Iraqi war.” [Star Press, 9/17/05]

 

September 2005: Pence Warned Against Making Hurricane Katrina Relief “A Catastrophe Of Debt For Our Children And Grandchildren.” According to a press release from the office of Rep. Pence, “U.S. Congressman Mike Pence delivered the following speech on the House floor this morning calling for fiscal discipline in hurricane relief: ‘Katrina breaks my heart. When I consider its tragic aftermath, the ancient parable comes to mind: ‘and the rains descended, and the flood came, and the winds blew and beat against the house and it fell with a great crash.’ ‘For most American families, when a tree falls on your house you tend to the wounded, you rebuild and then you figure out how you are going to pay for it. ‘Later today, Congress will continue the work of funding the relief and recovery from Hurricane Katrina, and well we should, by speeding more than $50 billion to FEMA and other agencies. ‘But as we tend to the wounded, as we begin to rebuild, let us also do what every other American family would do in like circumstances and expects this Congress to do: Let’s figure out how we are going to pay for it. ‘Congress must insure that a catastrophe of nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren.’” [Press Release –Office of Rep. Pence, 9/8/05]

September 2005: Pence Came Out With His “Operation Offset” Plan To Cut Spending To Pat For Rebuilding The Gulf Coast

Mike Pence Rolled Out Operation Offset Which Detailed Federal Spending Cuts To Pay For Rebuilding The Gulf Coast After Hurricane Katrina. According to The Star Press, “Congressman Mike Pence led conservative Republican House members last week in recommending how to raise up to $500 billion to pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. However, some corresponding spending cuts proposed by Pence — among them delaying the Medicare prescription drug benefit, raising Medicare premiums and eliminating subsidized loans for graduate students — came under fire from House Democrats. Pence, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, rolled out Operation Offset, which detailed numerous federal spending cuts to avoid raising taxes or increasing the federal deficit to pay the $200 billion cost of storm recovery.” [Star Press, 9/25/05]

Pence Called For Reducing “The Size And Scope Of Government” Due To Needing To Pay For Katrina Relief

October 2005: Pence: “Let’s Pay For The Cost Of Katrina By Reducing The Size And Scope Of Government.” According to a Mike Pence press release obtained via Congressional Press Releases, “‘Lets heed the President’s call for fiscal discipline and generosity. It is accurate to state that the President’s call for reducing spending and finding offsets is of incalculable value to those of us fighting to respond to the needs of this disaster without rais-ing taxes or adding to the national debt. ‘Let’s heed the President’s call, let’s make the tough choices, let’s pay for the cost of Katrina by reducing the size and scope of government.’” [Congressional Press Releases, 10/6/05]

 

Pence Called For Delaying Implementation Of A $40 Billion Prescription Drug Program For Seniors To Pay For Rebuilding The Gulf Coast

Mike Pence Wanted To Delay Implementation Of A Prescription Drug Program To Save $40 Billion To Help Pay For Hurricane Katrina. According to The Washington Times, “Some Republican critics of congressional spending also suggested delaying President Bush’s prescrip-tion-drug plan to roll back some of the $331 billion deficit, which includes $62.3 billion for hurricane relief. Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, said yesterday that lawmakers will have to take a ‘really hard look’ at delaying the Jan. 1 implementation of the prescription-drug entitlement, which he says would put $40 billion back into the budget.” [Washington Times, 9/19/05]

Pence Called For The Suspension Of Davis-Bacon Wage Requirements During Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts

September 2005: Pence Signed Onto A Letter To President Bush Urging Him To Suspend Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Requirements During Katrina Relief Efforts.In a Human Events Online op-ed Rep. Mike Pence wrote, “In September 2005, the RSC sent a letter to President Bush encouraging him to suspend Davis-Bacon prevailing wage requirements in the hurricane disaster areas–which the Administration did for a period of time. In the wake of the worst disaster in American history, House conservatives stood firm showing that it is possible to confront the ravages of nature with fiscal responsibility.” [Human Events Online, 9/8/06]

Pence Called For Budget Cuts And Fiscal Discipline To Pay For Katrina

September 2005: Pence Called Budget Cuts To Pay For Hurricane Katrina Relief The “Right Track.” According to a Mike Pence press release obtained via Congressional Press Releases, “Last week, dozens of House conservatives offered a broad range of suggested budget cuts to begin the debate over finding offsets in government spending to cover the incredible costs of this storm. The Washington Times called it a good start. The Washington Post called it stupid. We must be on the right track.” [Congressional Press Releases, 9/26/05]

 

October 2005: Pence Praised President Bush’s “Bold Vision” For Katrina Relief Through “Fiscal Discipline” And “Budget Cuts.” According to a Mike Pence press release obtained via Congressional Press Releases, “Chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, issued the following statement today in response to President Bush’s call for Congress to reduce spending in order to pay for hurricane relief and reconstruction efforts: ‘Today, President Bush laid out a bold vision for answering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina with generosity and fiscal discipline. The President’s call to reduce spending is of incalculable value to those of us fighting to respond to the needs of this disaster without raising taxes or adding to the national debt. With Presidential leadership supporting budget cuts to offset the cost of Hurricane Katrina, we are more confident than ever that a catastrophe of nature will not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren.’” [Congressional Press Releases, 10/4/05]

Years Later Pence Was Remembered For Blocking Hurricane Katrina Relief Money Until The Federal Budget Was Cut

2005: Pence Blocked Money For Hurricane Katrina Relief Until Republicans Agreed To Cut Spending In The Federal Budget. According to The Indianapolis Star, “PENCE continued to stand up to his own party, convincing Republicans to cut spending in the federal budget before approving money for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2005. He also opposed the bailout in 2008, leading to Congress abandoning a plan to buy financial institutions’ most toxic assets.” [Indianapolis Star, 10/7/12]