Disaster politics: When Marco Rubio faced heat for opposing aid

In 2013, he cited “pork” filled bill.<br>
Taxi cabs during Superstorm Sandy (The Associated Press)
Taxi cabs during Superstorm Sandy (The Associated Press)
Published Aug. 30, 2017|Updated Aug. 30, 2017

“Stay home.”

That was an irate New York Rep. Peter King to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio after Rubio opposed a nearly $51 billion aid package for Superstorm Sandy in 2013.

“Guys like Marco Rubio in Florida, with all the money that your people have gotten in Florida over the years from every hurricane that came along, and this guy has got the nerve to vote against money for New York and then come up here and try to raise money?” King said on Morning Joe.

“You know, he can forget it. He can stay home.”

Rubio, who was then feeling out a run for president, argued that the aid package was stuffed with pork, an argument echoed by numerous other conservatives, including Texas, Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and most Texas GOP House members.

Now Texas is facing an epic catastrophe with Hurricane Harvey and the debate over aid has resurfaced.

Rubio’s office did not respond to a question Tuesday posed by the Tampa Bay Times whether he would seek any sort of conditions for Harvey money. In 2013, Rubio did vote for a smaller Sandy aid but that’s not what was approved.

In a statement explaining his opposition, Rubio said emergency assistance funding shouldn’t be “derailed by efforts to find spending cuts to offset them,” but “we do have a responsibility to make sure this emergency spending is ultimately going to disaster relief, and not to other pet projects. Unfortunately, the Hurricane Sandy supplemental bill goes far beyond emergency relief to impacted victims and communities, which is why I voted no on final passage.”

(The Washington Post’s fact checker found the pork claim doesn’t hold up.)

Two other Florida lawmakers opposed the Sandy money: Rep. Ron DeSantis and Ted Yoho.

DeSantis also did not respond to questions; Yoho was traveling overseas.

King says he won’t seek revenge. “1 bad turn doesn’t deserve another,” he wrote on Twitter. “I won’t abandon Texas the way Ted Cruz did New York.”