"At the end of the day, I support disaster relief. I support it in my heart. We have to help our fellow man and woman, as we were helped."
—Mississippi's U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, Republican, Fourth Congressional District, in a telephone interview with the Biloxi Sun Herald, following his no vote for $9.7 billion in disaster relief for Superstorm Sandy victims in the Northeast.
Why it stinks: Hurricane Katrina devastated Palazzo's district on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Billions in direct federal aid have gone into Katrina aid, most of it authorized by Congress without any debate. Palazzo, then chief financial officer for the Biloxi Public Housing Authority, personally appealed to the feds for more than $38.5 million. Days after Katrina hit, Congress authorized $10.5 billion, followed shortly thereafter with $51.8 billion--that was just short-term relief. Of the total, $24.6 billion went to Mississippi. At the time, the Bush administration received criticism for its slow response.
Turnaround doesn't seem to be fair play for Rep. Palazzo. The other 66 Republicans in the new 113th Congress who voted against Sandy relief didn't have the benefit of personal experience. Palazzo does. In seven years he has turned a plea to ease human suffering into a fiscal bottom-line, tit-for-tat negotiation. His reason? He wants to see cuts elsewhere in the budget before providing aid.
How times have changed. How his heart has hardened.