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Damage after the tornados hit Arkansas
Received this e-mail today from the Arkansas Democratic Party regarding U.S. Senate candidate, Rep. Tom Cotton (R. AR):
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 26: Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., appears at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled
When disaster strikes, Arkansans stand with each other. Neighbors help neighbors and ask, "What can I do?"

On April 27, a massive tornado struck Mayflower, Vilonia and other parts of central Arkansas. While tornados are nothing new to Arkansans, the intensity and devastation of this storm shocked our state and devastated communities.

After the storm, the true spirit of Arkansans was on full display. First responders from cities and towns all over Arkansas showed up to help. Churches from across the state immediately began organizing aid and assistance for survivors of the tornado.

I have visited Mayflower and Vilonia and seen the damage. I’ve spoken with the mayors and I, along with thousands of my fellow Arkansans, have given to charities doing important work in the affected communities.

This is how Arkansans have always responded to natural disasters here in Arkansas and when they happen to our fellow Americans. We all do what we can to support the communities devastated by these storms, but at the end of the day, we need all hands on deck to help folks recover. That’s why Congressman Tom Cotton’s five votes against disaster relief are so troubling to so many of us.

Voting Against Aid for Arkansans

Cotton voted against four separate relief bills for victims of Hurricane Sandy. He also opposed the bipartisan, compromise budget that was passed earlier this year. Those no votes were not just irresponsible votes against relief for victims of natural disasters in other states. Cotton’s five votes against disaster relief were votes against money that is helping Arkansans recover from the April 27 tornado.

Hurricane Sandy was one of the largest natural disasters in our nation’s history. It caused billions of dollars worth of damage and drained the Federal government’s disaster aid funds. That’s why Congress had to appropriate emergency funds. They did it to ensure people hit by the storm had the support they needed to recover and so that natural disasters in other parts of the country would receive appropriate federal resources.

One of those disasters was the 2012 Christmas ice storm here in Arkansas. When federal disaster declarations were made in January 2013, the money used to help central Arkansas recover from that storm was money from the Hurricane Sandy emergency disaster funding bill that Cotton opposed.

Funding for FEMA and other federal disaster aid programs were also included in the budget that passed earlier this year. Cotton voted against that, too. That money was added to the funds from the Hurricane Sandy bill. The end result being that when Cotton opposed the Hurricane Sandy bill and the omnibus budget, he voted against the two pieces of legislation that are ensuring that survivors of the tornado in central Arkansas get the support they need to recover and rebuild.

Put another way, it’s arithmetic. FEMA budgeted $6.4 billion for disaster aid before Sandy hit but the storm forced FEMA to spend $10.5 billion. Hurricane Sandy left FEMA’s coffers empty. Without passing emergency funds, there would have been no money to clean up the Northeast or any of the disasters that struck after Sandy, like the Christmas 2012 ice storms. And yes, some of those funds are still in FEMA accounts helping clean up after the April 27 tornado. Simple math shows Cotton’s votes would have hurt Arkansans today

It’s Not About Pork

Cotton has offered conflicting excuses for his opposition to emergency disaster appropriations, and none of them stand up to scrutiny. For example, he claims his votes were rooted in a "principled" stand against pork barrel spending. The facts say otherwise. Take a closer look and it's clear the only underlying "principle" is Cotton's blind ambition for higher office.

Cotton not only opposed the final relief package for Hurricane Sandy, he also opposed three smaller iterations of relief for victims of that disaster. In fact, Cotton opposed a FEMA-only funding bill that ensured the federal government had the money to pay flood insurance claims resulting from Hurricane Sandy.
That bill was one-fifth the size of the final Hurricane Sandy relief package and it only funded FEMA’s flood insurance program. There was no pork and there were no special projects or sweeteners, just money for victims of a terrible storm. Cotton still refused to support it.

Cotton’s votes against disaster relief were reckless and confusing for Arkansans who don’t understand how he could vote five times against disaster relief. However, many of the outside special interest groups supporting his campaign for U.S. Senate urged him to vote that way.

The Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity opposed the Hurricane Sandy aid package and the omnibus budget that funded the disaster relief fund. The Club for Growth – a group former Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee called "the Club for Greed" – warned it would “punish” House members who voted for a flood insurance measure aimed at helping pay for Hurricane Sandy’s damage.

Americans for Prosperity has spent more than $3 million on television ads supporting Cotton’s campaign, and the Club for Growth has spent and contributed more than $1 million on Cotton’s behalf. When Cotton voted against disaster relief, he was putting his own political ambitions ahead of what’s best for Arkansas.

Cotton’s Record Matters

Cotton’s five votes against disaster aid were reckless and wrong. Arkansans stand with their fellow Americans when natural disasters strike and they do whatever they can to help their neighbors when tragedy strikes.

Natural disasters can happen anywhere and that’s why federal disaster aid is so important. Cotton was the only member of Arkansas’s congressional delegation to vote against disaster relief five times. He voted against disaster relief that is being used right now in central Arkansas. The out of state special interest groups spending millions on his behalf urged Cotton to vote against disaster relief and Cotton voted with them instead of Arkansas.

This is Cotton’s record and Arkansans will hold him accountable for these reckless votes.

Cotton's record of voting against disaster relief, especially after his home state was hit by tornados, is a top reason why we cannot let him win this year.  That's something Arkansas voters should think heavily about.  Click here to donate and get involved with Senator Mark Pryor's (D. AR) re-election bid:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jun 18, 2014 at 03:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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