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National Hurricane Center director Ken Graham says a warmer atmosphere could lead to more frequent, heavy storms in a preview of the official hurricane outlook forecast to be released at the end of the month. (May 17) AP, AP
Remember those billions of federal dollars Congress approved for relief from Hurricane Harvey and other weather disasters from 2017? The government is still sitting on it.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
For the folks in Puerto Rico, out of the goodness of your heart. But unless you just moved to South Texas from under a rock, you probably know that Hurricane Harvey, the second most destructive storm in U.S. history, made landfall about 20 miles from Corpus Christi and did catastrophic destruction in Port Aransas, Rockport and nearby communities. If you’ve lived here two years or more, chances are Harvey affected you.
Even if you’re a newcomer, if you are in need of a good roofer, carpenter, plumber or any other kind of building trades person and are having trouble finding or affording one, it’s because recovery work still is under way.
WHAT ABOUT THOSE BILLIONS?
Last week, U.S. Reps. Randy Weber, R-Friendswood, and Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, filed legislation to force federal agencies to release $16 billion in previously approved funding to the affected states and territories. Texas’ share would be $4 billion.
WAS “R” AND “D” A MISPRINT?
No. The bill is called the Bipartisan Disaster Recovery Funding Act. It is what it says it is — bipartisan. It has 13 other House sponsors from Texas alone, from Trump-backing Republicans to Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, who may be Congress’ most consistent supporter of impeachment. Weber once compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and caught much-deserved heat for it. But he and Green can work together on this disaster relief bill. It also has supporters from Louisiana, South Carolina, Florida and Puerto Rico. The Senate version’s sponsors are John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia.
Besides Weber, Fletcher and Green, the other House co-sponsors are Brian Babin, R-Woodville, Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina, John Carter, R-Round Rock, Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, Joe Cunningham, D-South Carolina, Bill Flores, R-Bryan, Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, Jeniffer Gonzalez-Colon, R-Puerto Rico, Garret Graves, R-Louisiana, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, Michael McCaul, R-Tomball, Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, Tom Rice, R-South Carolina, David Rouzer, R-North Carolina, and Ted Yoho, R-Florida.
Curiously, Rep. Michael Cloud, R-Victoria, wasn’t a co-sponsor. What’s curious about it is that his district includes the largest geographic territory damaged by Harvey, including where it made landfall. The Houston area, where most of the co-sponsors are from, had catastrophic flood damage. But Cloud’s District 27, which includes Corpus Christi, had every kind of damage Harvey inflicted, including the hurricane-force winds that caved in structures along the coast.
Cloud’s staff was asked why he wasn’t among this long list of sponsors and the answer, late Friday, was that “it was given to us shortly before it was introduced, and we are still looking over it.” Also they promised to tell more when they knew more. If they know more, they haven’t told.
On Tuesday, Cloud’s office emailed a newsletter touting his support for Israel, protection for babies born alive after abortion, controlling the national debt and concern for rising suicides among veterans. There was no mention of the Bipartisan Disaster Recovery Funding Act, which would benefit his district directly, along with those other hurricane-damaged states and Puerto Rico.
WHY NOT HARVEY RELIEF TOO?
Good question. Cloud first took office in the summer of 2018 after a special election to fill Blake Farenthold’s unexpired term. When Gov. Greg Abbott called for the election, he specifically mentioned hurricane relief as the reason District 27 could not wait for the general election in November 2018.
Congressman Weber’s homepage mentions hurricane relief repeatedly, and a list of his accomplishments starts with Harvey disaster relief and coastal barrier protection. Next to a photo of Weber in a hard hat is this message:
“Congressman Randy Weber knows we’ve come a long way since Harvey, but he knows there’s much more to do in making our communities STRONGER.”
Much more, indeed.
Cloud’s homepage, as of Tuesday at least, showed no mention of Harvey.
WHAT SHOULD CLOUD DO?
It’s presumptuous to speculate what you’d do in Cloud’s shoes, since Cloud is the congressman and you’re not. But if your presumption is that you’d have looked up fellow Republican Weber as soon as you took office, since he has experience getting Harvey relief — not to mention an apparently deep commitment to it — your constituents probably would be receptive, supportive and maybe even appreciative. They probably would consider it Congressman 101 to nurture a relationship with someone like Weber and make sure you’re involved in any Hurricane Harvey relief legislation.
It might give them a reason to re-elect you. Or there’s the vice versa, which appears to be the case here.
Tom Whitehurst Jr. analyzes, explains and, when appropriate, opines on what’s important in your life. Help support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Caller-Times.
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