Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-Mount Kisco, sent a letter to President Obama today asking him to declare all of the 19th Congressional District a federal disaster area so additional funds and assistance can be sought to help with the recovery from Tropical Storm Irene.
“During visits with local officials and residents in every county in the Nineteenth District, I observed first-hand the extensive damage to homes, businesses, farmland and infrastructure from hurricane-force winds, rain, and flooding throughout the Hudson Valley,” she said in a statement. “Our families and businesses merit the same federal disaster assistance that other communities have been granted for financial needs, housing and other necessities to speed recovery from a devastating storm. I respectfully urge the President to approve Governor Cuomo’s request for the highest disaster designation for New York, so that the citizens of our District will receive relief as quickly as possible.”
Hayworth’s letter and comments can be found here.
Also today, Richard Becker, a doctor and Cortlandt Town Board member, sent a letter to Hayworth asking if she supported House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s call to offset disaster aid with cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. Becker, a Democrat, is considering a run next year against Hayworth, who is also a doctor.
“While I share Majority Leader Cantor’s concern for the federal deficit, I believe that conditioning disaster relief on budget cuts elsewhere is a reckless departure from past practices and uses disaster victims as a bargaining chip for budget concessions,” Becker wrote in part. “It’s my strong belief that as local governments, businesses, and residents in the Hudson Valley seek to clean up and recover from the devastating effects of this week’s flooding, they should not have to be concerned that Tea Party orthodoxy will get in the way of much needed federal disaster relief. I hope you share the same concerns.”
His full letter can be found after the break.
Hayworth’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on Becker’s letter. But in a story published today by the Middletown Times Herald-Record, she appears to support Cantor’s position, saying the government has options to find the money in “non-military discretionary funding.”
“We’re facing a natural disaster in the middle of an economic disaster,” Hayworth told the Middletown paper. “The federal government has to balance its budget the way our families do.”
Here is Becker’s letter to Hayworth:
Dear Congresswoman Hayworth,
In light of comments made by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, that disaster aid be predicated on additional cuts to the federal budget, I write today hoping that you will clarify your position on federal disaster relief for communities in the Hudson Valley have been impacted by Hurricane Irene. Specifically, I would like to ask if you support sending FEMA disaster assistance to help the Hudson Valley recover, regardless as to whether this funding is offset by cuts elsewhere as proposed by the majority leader?
During an interview with Fox News, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suggested that federal relief for disasters be conditioned on cuts identified elsewhere in the budget. Congressman Cantor, responding to a question about Washington’s role in providing aid for disaster relief said: “we’re just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to continue to do so.”
While I share Majority Leader Cantor’s concern for the federal deficit, I believe that conditioning disaster relief on budget cuts elsewhere is a reckless departure from past practices and uses disaster victims as a bargaining chip for budget concessions.
It’s my strong belief that as local governments, businesses, and residents in the Hudson Valley seek to clean up and recover from the devastating effects of this week’s flooding, they should not have to be concerned that Tea Party orthodoxy will get in the way of much needed federal disaster relief. I hope you share the same concerns.
Flooding has forced hundreds from their homes and inflicted as-of-now incalculable damage on infrastructure throughout the region. In Orange County, for example, administrative buildings are shutdown, Metro-North service at Port Jervis is expected to take months to restore, and Wallkill, a town of over twenty thousand, has prohibited all non-essential travel.
According to Con-Edison, approximately 1,500 of my own constituents in the Town of Cortlandt remain without power as a result of the storm. The number of affected homes in the region at large is forty times this. One local deli-owner expressed frustration to me that, as a result of the power outage, he will lose tens of thousands of dollars worth of inventory over the next few days.
The people in your congressional district depend on their member of Congress to deliver any and all federal aid necessary to help rebuild and recover from devastating storm storms like this one. It’s my sincere hope you do not agree with Majority Leader Cantor and will work to deliver federal disaster relief funds to the Hudson Valley, without concern for offsetting these desperately needed funds with additional cuts to the federal budget.
Dr. Richard Becker, MD
Cortlandt Town Board