House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) insistence that federal disaster aid be offset elsewhere in the budget runs directly counter to his position in the past when the money went to help his district.
Cantor is in an awkward position when it comes to disaster aid. Twice in the last week his district was struck by natural disasters — once by the hurricane and once by an earthquake — and his state’s Republican governor has said deficit concerns should not be a factor in the response to the disaster.
Yet Cantor is also the leader of a House GOP majority focused on reducing government spending, and disaster relief that is not offset with other spending cuts threatens to eat away at the savings Republicans have carved from the budget.
This has left Cantor straddling between his national role as a popular Tea Party conservative — focused on spending cuts and balanced budgets — and his less-publicized duties as a representative of Virginia.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, breaking with fellow Republican Cantor, on Tuesday suggested that deficit-spending concerns should not be a factor as Congress and the Federal Emergency Management Agency respond to Hurricane Irene.
“My concern is that we help people in need,” McDonnell said during his monthly radio show. “For the FEMA money that’s going to flow, it’s up to them on how they get it. I don’t think it’s the time to get into that [deficit] debate.”