Palazzo was taken to task by a Mississippi newspaper for voting against increasing the borrowing authority of the flood insurance program to aid the victims of Superstorm Sandy. The newspaper pointed out that the Republican lawmaker called for immediate federal aid after Hurrican Katrina hit the Gulf in 2005.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency warned last week that the flood insurance program would have to delay payments on more than 115,000 claims until Congress acted to increase the borrowing authority. Palazzo defended his vote in an earlier article in the Sun Herald as an attempt to rein in growth of the federal debt.
“People from South Mississippi have told me everywhere I go, ‘Steven, y’all have got to get your financial affairs in order. We’re not going to have a future,’” he said. “There are going to be no opportunities for my children.’”
But the Sun Herald noted that Palazzo, then chief financial officer for the Biloxi Public Housing Authority, called for immediate federal aid after Katrina hit the Gulf states in 2005.
“No member of Congress should have been more supportive of this measure than Palazzo. As the congressional representative of Hurricane Katrina’s ‘ground zero,’ Palazzo should have had nothing but sympathy and empathy for those in need of this legislation,” the paper said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who has been talking often with the New York and New Jersey delegations about Sandy recovery expenses, on Tuesday said he expected Palazzo to be a “natural leader for disaster relief reform in the 113th Congress.” Palazzo serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, which has jurisdiction over FEMA.
House Republican leadership appears to be working to remove some potential obstacles from the passage of the Sandy aid measure. The House Rules Committee has asked members to submit their proposed amendments by 4 p.m. on Jan. 11, because there may be a rule that “could limit the amendment process for floor consideration” of the Sandy recovery package. Putting the Sandy legislation on the floor without such restriction on amendments would raise the odds for conservatives in their quest to demand savings from other programs to offset disasters costs, and to seek to whittle down the spending in the measures.