In light of the misinformation circulating about my vote against the FAA Reauthorization Act, many constituents have asked for an in-depth explanation of my stance. First, to set the record straight, I do support Hurricane Florence relief funding and have taken several steps to ensure that North Carolinians receive the help they need. On September 26, I voted to provide $8.8 billion to FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to ensure FEMA remains able to effectively assess the damage and administer disaster relief during this time of recovery. I also had signed two letters to President Trump that requested approval of North Carolina’s State of Emergency declaration and federal assistance.
That same day, I voted against the FAA Reauthorization Act because it was not a disaster relief bill—as many are incorrectly asserting—and it was nowhere close to the conservative principles that have long guided my voting. Rather, it was a Christmas tree full of many unrelated pieces of legislation that contained all sorts of bad public policy. It contained bills that would never pass on their own merits and were inserted into what was considered a “must pass” bill to reauthorize the FAA. My constituents have consistently expressed their frustration to me when members of Congressional leadership take this tactic. It is important to follow regular order and resist this manner of pushing through legislation. For these reasons, along with 22 other brave members of the House, both Republican and Democrat, I opposed the legislation.
Among the terrible policies in the FAA bill, a couple of pieces of crony capitalism stand out. One such provision subsidizes private sector investments in foreign nations, putting taxpayers on the hook for risky investments similar to the Ex-Im Bank which I have long opposed. Another was the BUILD Act, which establishes a mandatory fee for concrete masonry products to enable government-aided advertising.
What is being touted as ‘disaster relief,’ is an appropriation for the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program that will not support immediate relief projects. These funds are often not available for 12-18 months after the disaster, and it is a disservice to victims to place them in the category of ‘disaster relief.’ As we learned with Hurricane Sandy, these funds will be used years down the road to fund unrelated pet projects. Furthermore, these kinds of grants are notorious for performing extremely poorly for taxpayers. In fact, there are still $700 million CBDG funds unaccounted for after Hurricane Katrina 14 years ago.
I want hard-working taxpayers’ dollars to be spent wisely and to help the people who need help. CDBG does neither of these effectively. Going forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues to provide meaningful disaster relief to those harmed by Hurricane Florence as I have done in the past.