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September 08, 2011

Richmond, Thompson Applaud Former GOP Homeland Security Secretary's Support of Disaster Relief Without Offsets

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Tom J. Ridge, the first Secretary of Homeland Security and former Republican Governor of Pennsylvania testified at a hearing on Capitol Hill that he supports a clean boost to disaster relief funds without offsets or budget cuts elsewhere. While testifying before the full House Committee on Homeland Security hearing on The Attacks of September 11th: Where are We Today Mr. Ridge stated, in response to a question posed by Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA) on budget offsets for disaster relief, that Never in the history of the country have we worried about budget around emergency appropriations for natural disasters and, frankly, in my view we shouldn't be worried about it now. I realize you got fiscal problems, which is a real challenge, but we're all in as a country. And when Mother Nature devastates a community we may need emergency appropriations and we ought to just deal with it and then deal with the fiscal issues later on.

All year long I've said that requiring offsets for emergency disaster relief is sinful and heartless. Congress must be wherever Americans are in need—especially in the wake of natural disasters. I'm glad that Mr. Ridge and other Republicans agree, said Congressman Richmond.

We need to give FEMA the funding necessary to support its emergency preparedness and response missions without corresponding offsets and cuts elsewhere. There is no need to politicize disaster response, added Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security.

Last week, Reps. Richmond and Thompson led members of Congress in a letter to the House Speaker and Majority Leader calling on them to assure the American people that the federal government remains a committed partner in helping to restore communities in the wake of natural disasters and make it clear that budgetary offsets will not be required prior to emergency funding.

Subsequently, House GOP leadership has indicated its support for a clean aid bill. Mr. Richmond published an editorial opposing the GOP idea of requiring offsets to emergency spending here.

He also presented the Humanitarian Aid for Americans Act (H.R. 2455) and an amendment to preemptively block any such proposal, video of which can be found here.

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Media Contact:
Adam Comis (Thompson) 202-225-9978
Aketa Simmons (Richmond) 202-579-5571