Government & Politics

KC area Republicans vote against Harvey relief, debt ceiling increase

Hurricane Harvey inundated parts of the Houston area with more than 4 feet of rain.
Hurricane Harvey inundated parts of the Houston area with more than 4 feet of rain. TNS

Almost every Kansas City area Republican voted against the bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling and provide relief to Houston and other areas grappling with severe damage from Hurricane Harvey.

Every Missouri Republican in the U.S. House, including Reps. Sam Graves and Vicky Hartzler from the Kansas City region, voted against the relief bill, which was the result of negotiations between President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders.

“Of all the possible things they could have broken with President Trump on, it’s disappointing that Missouri’s Republican officeholders in the U.S. House voted against much-needed Hurricane relief for Houston,” Missouri Democratic chairman Stephen Webber said in a statement.

Hartzler said in a statement that she voted against the legislation because it “freezes defense spending at current levels and ties the hands of our Defense Department, preventing them from making desperately needed investments to meet the threats we are facing.”

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, voted in favor of the bill, as did both of the state’s U.S. senators, Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill.

The bill will provide more than $15 billion in federal aid for recovery efforts after flooding to Houston and other Gulf Coast communities took at least 70 lives and damaged large swaths of property.

Among Kansas members of the U.S. House, Rep. Roger Marshall, a freshman Republican from western Kansas, was the only member of the state’s delegation to support the bill.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, an Overland Park Republican, said in a statement that he was “deeply frustrated” about the pairing of emergency relief with the bill to raise the debt ceiling to ensure the federal government can continue to spend money.

Yoder said he wanted meaningful spending reforms included in the debt ceiling bill.

“I strongly believe there are bipartisan compromises that work for the American people, but today’s short-term fix that kicks the can down the road wasn’t one of them,” he said.

Rachel Irwin, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, called Yoder’s vote cruel and said the “fact that it was also a vote for a government shutdown and defaulting on America’s debt gives new meaning to the word irresponsible.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, also opposed the bill in the U.S. Senate Thursday, saying in a statement that Congress has for many years “abdicated its responsibility to rein in our soaring national debt” and asserting his support for Harvey victims despite his vote.  

“It is unfortunate that we were unable to demonstrate our support for the suffering Americans on our gulf coast due to the addition of the continuing resolution and approaching debt limit,” Moran said.

The state’s other Republican senator, Pat Roberts, voted for the bill.

Bryan Lowry: 816-234-4077, @BryanLowry3