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Isaac causes GOP senator to call for federal disaster aid

August 27, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Tropical Storm Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is predicted to strengthen to a Category 2 hurricane before a predicted landfall on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Tropical Storm Isaac in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm is predicted to strengthen… (EPA / NOAA )

TAMPA, Fla. -- The small-government ideals that have defined the GOP as the party opens its convention here are running into the big-government needs brought on by Tropical Storm Isaac.

One Republican, Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, called on President Obama on Monday to issue a disaster declaration, unleashing the federal aid that follows, as the hurricane churned toward the Gulf Coast.

"State and local governments need every tool and resource available to respond to this rapidly approaching hurricane,” Vitter said in a statement. “Due to the serious nature of Tropical Storm Isaac and the worsening forecast by the National Weather Service, there is a clear and justified need for a federal emergency declaration to address this emergency situation.”

Vitter skipped his party's festivities in Tampa and was spending time with the Army Corps of Engineers to monitor the scene in his state.

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Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise said the hurricane's projected landfall on the anniversary of Katrina would not detract from the GOP's core convention message of right-sizing the scope of government after four years of Obama.

"We've always said the federal government ought to be run right and within their means, [and] our local officials really are the ones on the ground taking care of business," said Scalise, who represents the southeastern area of the state, during a brief interview in Tampa.

"Obviously, the anniversary of Katrina, it's always a very sensitive time back home," he said, noting the federal government has long funded disaster aid -- even though the GOP-led House balked at such aid last year after Hurricane Irene during a heated budget dispute. "Should food stamp funding be increased 40%? Should federal agencies be proposing regulations that are killing jobs? Those are the real policies we've been fighting on."

The GOP has slashed budgets over the past two years after Republicans took control of the House, and lawmakers are now trying to renege on a budget deal they made with Obama last year during the standoff over lifting the nation's debt ceiling.

Upending that deal, as the GOP proposes, would likely lead to less funding available for natural disasters.

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