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Welch Tries to Build Bipartisan Disaster Coalition

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo

“Don’t tell me that we don’t know from disaster. People are hurting,” Cantor added. “The conversation still at home is, Do you have your power?’ So, I am for making sure that people get their money and that there will be no hold up.”

But Cantor, whose district was the epicenter of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast two weeks ago and was badly hit by Hurricane Irene, would not say whether the $6 billion emergency funding bill moving through the Senate was an appropriate amount of money.

“We don’t know, and the president hasn’t asked for additional monies,” Cantor said, adding that “we now have a mechanism” for dealing with emergency funding through the debt limit deal crafted over the summer. The debt deal allows spending caps to be raised by as much as $11.5 billion to account for disaster spending.

Asked whether he would attend Thursday’s bipartisan meeting with Fugate, Cantor spokeswoman Laena Fallon said: “As his district was severely impacted by both the recent earthquake and Hurricane Irene, Leader Cantor has been in constant contact with state and local officials as well as FEMA.”

Welch said he is happy to debate offsetting the aid but doesn’t want that to delay the enactment of the funding or inhibit it from getting to victims.

“My view is if we see money that can [be] saved because it’s not being well spent, let’s do that; that ought to be a 24-7 commitment,” Welch said. But “I don’t want the offset issue to become an obstacle to getting relief to folks up and down the coast that are still reeling from Irene,” Welch said.

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