Rep. Amash voted no, and there is no explanation of his vote on this date. He couldn't have objected to "pork and garbage," because there was none. Perhaps he objected to the $9.7 billion not being offset with cuts in other federal spending, but then I'm surprised he didn't explain that on his Facebook page.
I'm aware that most legislation has pork and other garbage attached. But if you continuously vote against any legislation with pork and garbage, without attempting to amend or propose alternative solutions without pork and garbage, and even vote against bills without pork and garbage that have historically been previously uncontroversial, (in this case, disaster relief assistance) then my opinion is that you are just refusing to govern.
I voted no on the motion to suspend the rules and pass H R 41, which temporarily authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to borrow an additional $9.7 billion from the U.S. Treasury to carry out the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The bill increases FEMA's borrowing authority from $20.7 billion to a staggering $30.4 billion. NFIP needs another bailout for Hurricane Sandy claims because it still hasn't repaid taxpayers the $18 billion provided after Hurricane Katrina.
Although I oppose the federal government's involvement in the flood insurance industry, it's appropriate for current NFIP policyholders to have their claims paid for flood damage. But another bailout should be fully offset with spending cuts elsewhere or at least coupled with significant reforms to this poorly designed and managed program. Under this bill, NFIP will owe U.S. taxpayers $30 billion, with little prospect of ever paying it back. The bill passed 354-67.
So he feared taxpayers would be on the hook for $10B program with a proven track record of mismanagement. Sounds like he made the hard decision and said no, the right call in my opinion.
I don't see this as a "hard decision." He cast a symbolic vote to remain ideologically pure. Had our Congress consisted of at least 217 Justin Amashes, their votes would have had the practical effect of denying thousands of people devastated by Hurricane Sandy from having their flood insurance claims paid. That's all the additional funding was for -- flood insurance claims. You can argue about the mismanagement of FEMA in general, but this $9.7 billion had nothing to with that. Voting down this bill would have basically forced FEMA to tell a bunch of people hit by Hurricane Sandy, "Hey, that flood insurance you paid into that you're depending on to rebuild your home? Yeah, you're not going to get any money from those claims until we figure out how much we need to jack up the age of Social Security, sorry."
This is not governing. Look, you can argue that the federal government should not be providing flood insurance (especially insurance that is heavily subsidized) as it encourages people to live in high-risk areas for natural disasters. And you can argue that the current process of allocation disaster assistance from the federal budget should have a better process than "ask for a bunch of money for flood insurance whenever FEMA runs out." I consider these are very valid points.
Yet anyone attempting to govern would make these arguments when they wouldn't interfere with thousands of people experiencing a hardship from receiving assistance that was heretofore uncontroversial, and they would actually then proceed to turn those arguments into legislation and then pass it.
This is what I mean. "Refusal to govern" means doing little else besides casting symbolic votes, which a wing of the Republican party like Rep. Amash is mostly content to do. Rep. Amash is not actually making any "hard decisions" or "right calls." He doesn't have to bear any responsibility for denying people hit by Hurricane Sandy their flood insurance claims, yet he doesn't care to actually solve the macro-level problems behind his opposition to the bill to begin with.
Afforess and anyone else -- I love discussing public policy, so if you want to continue this discussion in a more efficient manner than exchanging HN comments, just e-mail me (see my profile for the address).