U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot called the deadly storms that hit the Cincinnati area last March “catastrophic,” and he offered shattered communities a financial lifeline through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s low-interest rate disaster loan program.
In 1997, when Washington wrangling over budget issues held up relief after the Ohio River flooded Cincinnati, Chabot raged against “politics at its worst” and said his hometown truly needed federal assistance to rebuild. His words at the time: “Let us get the disaster relief to the people who truly need it.”
Fast-forward to January 2013, and Chabot is refusing to help the battered Northeast United States with federal disaster relief.
Former New York Sen. Al D’Amato is calling Republican House members like Chabot who wouldn’t support $60 billion in aid for Hurricane Sandy-ravaged states a “bunch of jackasses.” The jackasses are members of his own political party.
Chabot apparently balked at the Sandy relief package because it offered federal cash to the National Park Service and other agencies that needed funding after the storm. Chabot saw pork where most in the House — the two Sandy bills passed by huge margins — saw responsible and necessary federal actions. Chabot and his fellow travelers are getting pounded as short-sighted. And he probably can be criticized as a hypocrite.
After the massive March tornado outbreak, Chabot posted links on his Twitter account and his official House website that guided Ohioans in the ravaged areas on how to apply for federal help. He pointed to the U.S. Small Business Administration as a source of disaster loans. On April 16, 2012, Chabot said, “The tornadoes on March 12 affected many in our region in various ways, and the Small Business Administration (SBA) may be able to help those who have experienced ‘uninsured’ losses caused by these catastrophic storms. If you are located in Brown, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton or Warren counties and experienced damages caused by the tornadoes, high winds or flooding, you may be eligible for assistance from the SBA’s Disaster Loan program.”
But there is more to the story. In 1997, after a disastrous Ohio River flood wrecked much of Cincinnati’s riverfront, Chabot ripped into then-President Bill Clinton for vetoing a disaster relief package. Clinton was furious that the GOP had tied flood aid to his showdown with former Speaker Newt Gingrich over a government shutdown. Chabot said stopping the 1997 disaster relief package was a refusal to help Cincinnatians rebuild and get on with their lives.
Chabot took the House floor and gave a speech about Cincinnati needing federal disaster relief.