Issue: H.R. 3672; A bill making appropriations for disaster relief requirements for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, and for other purposes. Question: On passage (3/5 required).
Result: Passed 72 to 27, 1 not voting. Became Public Law 112-77 (signed by the President 12-23-11). GOP and Democrats scored.
Bill Summary: Provides $8.1 billion in disaster relief funding.
Analysis: Appropriations for FY2012 disaster relief were considered separately from the minibus and megabus. Commenting on an earlier House vote, the Establishment’s New York Times reported:
“Democrats and Republicans agree that [disaster] assistance is one of the government’s main responsibilities, but disagree over how much of the cost can be anticipated and how much, if any, should be offset.” [Emphasis added.] —“House Rebukes G.O.P. Leaders Over Spending,” New York Times, 9/21/11
If the Times is correct, then both parties agree that the Constitution is irrelevant. Nothing in the Constitution authorizes the federal government to provide state and local disaster aid. At one time in our nation’s history, that was understood. In one of his most famous vetoes (1886), President Grover Cleveland rejected the “Texas Seed Bill” on constitutional grounds (see the excerpt from his veto message below). The bill would have provided minimal disaster assistance to a number of drought-stricken Texas counties.
In 2011, both parties publicly disagreed over whether disaster relief appropriations should be subject to the cap laid out in the debt ceiling deal worked out between Boehner and President Barack Obama in August. However, the House gave opponents of funding offsets a gift by incorporating them in a separate bill. The Senate easily defeated that bill in the roll call (234) following this one.
We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
On February 16, 1886, President Grover Cleveland delivered his veto message on the “Texas Seed Bill” to the House of Representatives. The following excerpt speaks to principles long ignored by today’s collectivist-oriented media:
“I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.
“The friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied upon to relieve their fellow-citizens in misfortune. This has been repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.”
Instead of asserting an unconstitutional responsibility to provide disaster aid, government’s main responsibility should be to get us out of the unconstitutional mess it has created.
Correcting the mess doesn’t necessarily mean going “cold turkey” on all unconstitutional spending. In some cases, it just means letting programs run their course and expire. But restoring constitutional government does means slashing the enormous borrowing, taxing, and spending of the federal government, so the states can acquire the revenue to do what the voters want their states to do and the voters have the means to provide private charity and “strengthen the bonds of a common brotherhood.”