August 1, 2014

King, Vilsack debate federal aid for Hurricane Sandy

Republican Congressman Steve King says he will not give the Federal Emergency Management Agency a blank check to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“I want to get them the resources that are necessary to lift them out of this water and this sand and the ashes and the death that’s over there in the east coast and especially the northeast,” King says. “But they need to come with a plan on how to spend it.”

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, King voted to immediately send $10.5 billion to the disaster zone, but King balked at a second installment of nearly $52 billion for things like temporary trailer homes and preparing for future disasters.

“Can you imagine in the middle of a disaster to ask for appropriations for mitigating future disasters?” King says. “That’s why I said no on that second round of appropriations for Katrina…because they spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of — in addition to what was necessary.”

King made his comments Tuesday night during a debate in Mason City and Christie Vilsack, King’s Democratic opponent, immediately responded to that Gucci remark.

“Comments like that, Congressman King, are heartless,” Vilsack said. “You were one of 11 congresspeople who voted against flood relief in Hurricane Katrina and you said it was the proudest vote that you ever took.”

Vilsack suggested that’s not “who we are in Iowa.”

“I hope that he will show the kind of kindness that Iowans do when we take care of people and when we have a disaster here as we have in past years with flooding,” she said. “How can we expect people to come in and take care of our disasters if we’re not willing to come in and take care of theirs?”

King said he was willing to “take some lumps” over refusing to support disaster relief for Katrina damage since some of the money was ultimately misspent.

“Congressman King, your positions are extreme,” Vilsack replied. “In Iowa, we take care of people.”

Last night’s debate was the seventh and final face-to-face meeting of the two candidates in Iowa’s new fourth congressional district. The debate was co-sponsored by KGLO Radio, The Mason City Globe-Gazette and KIMT television.