This editorial was first published in the Austin American-Statesman. Guest editorials don’t necessarily reflect the Denton Record-Chronicle’s opinions.
We’re not sure who U.S. Rep. Chip Roy was representing last week when he single-handedly blocked a $19.1 billion emergency bill for hard-hit communities — including more than $4 billion for Texans still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
It wasn’t the scores of residents at a Northwest Harris County mobile home park that volunteers visited three weeks ago, where people are still living in moldy, flood-damaged homes. Some of the homes still have the holes that residents punched in the walls in the fall of 2017 to let Harvey’s floodwaters drain out, said Brian Carr with Northwest Assistance Ministries, a nonprofit that uses private donations to help families rebuild.
“We estimate in just the northwest quadrant of Harris County that we serve, there’s still tens of thousands of people that are living in homes that were damaged by Harvey, by the flood,” Carr told us. “And so they’re living with mold, or they’re living without walls, or they’re living without air conditioning, or they’re living with that damage because they don’t have the ability to pay for [fixing] it.”
Nevermind those folks. Nevermind others who are still living in FEMA trailers, on leases extended through August because their Harvey-damaged homes remain unrepaired. Nevermind the buyouts and other mitigation projects that coastal cities hoped to tackle before the next hurricane season — which starts Saturday.
Roy, a Republican congressman for northern Hays and southern Travis counties, ignored them all when he stood up May 24 to block the $19.1 billion emergency relief bill (a colleague from Kentucky blocked the bill again on Tuesday, likely delaying approval until early June). The measure needed unanimous approval of those in the chamber because so many members of Congress had left for the Memorial Day weekend.
Roy decried such a vote, in the absence of so many members, as a “kind of swampy practice.” We won’t argue it was Washington at its finest. But who pays for Roy’s grandstanding? It’s not his colleagues in Congress. It’s the Texans still rebuilding from Harvey. It’s our Gulf Coast neighbors who’ve also been battered by storms. It’s Midwesterners hit by flooding, and residents of Western states ravaged by wildfires.
Reasonable people can debate whether the disaster package was too large or too small. Roy argued it was both: He objected to spending “over $19 billion that is not paid for,” yet lamented the package did not include “the quite modest $4.4 billion request” by the Trump administration for border security. Just for good measure, Roy also blamed his no vote for disaster aid on the fact that “Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi would rather play politics on impeachment.”
Remind us again how this is helping Texans?
It’s not. It hasn’t taken long for Roy, elected last year, to forget about the pressing needs of people back in Texas. We hope voters next year will remember.