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U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx votes against Katrina Bill
By Scott Nicholson

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Watauga) was one of only 11 representatives to vote against a federal relief package for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Foxx’s press secretary Amy Auth said Foxx voted against the bill for several reasons, though she said Foxx did support relief efforts and had voted for the initial $10.5 billion supplemental relief bill the week before. Foxx was concerned because the $51.8 billion federal aid package didn’t provide enough accountability in how the money will be spent, Auth said.

“She (Foxx) is obviously very deeply sympathetic over the devastation inflicted by the storm and she does believe the victims should be helped,” Auth said. “She has made personal charitable contributions and urged her constituents to make charitable donations to organizations like the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.”

Auth said the vote didn’t signal a lack of faith in the federal agencies that would deliver the aid, but “is about making wise and informed decisions.” Auth said Foxx favored adopting relief packages in smaller increments rather than “in a large blank check.” Foxx was also concerned because the bill didn’t include funding for rebuilding the affected areas.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jerry Meek said in a statement, “Congresswoman Foxx’s callous, heartless vote against the relief funding for Hurricane Katrina is mind-boggling.”

“Does she have a television or read the newspapers? Virginia Foxx has shown herself to be out of touch not only with the caring people of our state and nation, but out of step with 97% of the U.S. Congress,” he said.

Fifth district Democratic Party chair David Crawford also criticized Foxx’s vote. “In voting against the Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery bill, Congresswoman Foxx has callously abandoned the values of her constituents and their efforts to act compassionately towards their neighbors in need,” Crawford said in a statement. “The people of the Fifth District understand that providing vital resources for Americans who have been devastated by a natural disaster is not a partisan issue. They understand that it is an issue of humanity and that it is our moral obligation as a nation of wealth and prosperity to reach out to our fellow Americans who have literally lost everything. I am outraged that Virginia Foxx has chosen to ignore the compassion of her constituents as demonstrated by their overwhelming response to volunteer and contribution efforts. Representative Foxx’s vote is an embarrassment to our district because it tells the people of Louisiana and Mississippi that we don’t care.”

An editorial in the Richmond County (N.C.) Daily Journal defended Foxx’s position by saying “Foxx has a duty to act in what she believes are her constituents' best interests” and defending her standing by her convictions by adding “nothing is more American” than taking an unpopular stance if she had questions about the bill.

The $51.8 billion package was signed into law Thursday night and included $2,000 debit cards for qualifying families displaced by the storm. The bill earmarks $23.2 billion was for housing aid and grants to individuals, with about $640 million for the debit cards, which are to be used for food an clothing. State and local governments will get nearly $8 billion. Most of the package will be distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has been heavily criticized over its response to the storm and its aftermath.

The relief package will cost each taxpayer more than $600, according to an analysis conducted by one of the congressional offices voting against the bill, and the costs are expected to rise once the final damage is assessed. Estimates of the final tally for damage are now over $200 billion.

• Scott Nicholson may be contacted

at nicholson@wataugademocrat.com.


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