DENVER — Under strong pressure from New York and New Jersey elected officials, the House of Representatives Friday passed a $9.7 billion federal aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
In a rare bipartisan vote, the measure passed 354-67 and is now headed on to the Senate, where it’s certain to pass.
In the House, not a single Democrat voted no.
At least one of the 67 conservative Republicans who opposed the bill is just months removed from seeing a natural disaster devastate his own district.
That would be Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, where the Waldo Canyon Fire last June destroyed close to 350 homes and led to $352.6 million in insurance claims.
Following that fire, Lamborn signed onto a letter along with the other members of the Colorado congressional delegation asking the White House for additional FEMA disaster relief.
Two months earlier, Lamborn had actually introduced his own legislation aimed at limiting executive disaster declarations and federal dollars they free up.
“Most disasters – tornadoes, snowstorms, fires, floods – are state and local issues,” Lamborn said in a press release announcing the move. “Last year, President Obama issued over 240 FEMA disaster declarations, breaking the previous by over 80. Obama increased the national debt with his very generous use of ‘disaster declarations.”
On Friday, the other three Colorado Republican House members, Reps. Mike Coffman, Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton, all voted in favor of the Sandy relief package.
Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat who said he’ll support the legislation when it moves to the Senate, resisted the opportunity to criticize Lamborn in an interview with FOX31, saying only that it’s customary for lawmakers to support federal aid for other states.
“I’ve worked with Congressman Lamborn on a number of important initiatives for his district, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about his vote,” Udall said. “We’ve long had a history and tradition in our Congress of supporting other regions of the country that experience natural disasters. Why? Because the next one natural disaster is coming to your state.
“We’ve long had a belief that we’re all in it together.”
Lamborn’s office responded to a FOX31 Denver request for a comment with a statement Friday afternoon.
“Congressman Lamborn believes that even worthy disaster relief funding needs to be paid for, given the unsustainable size our trillion dollar annual deficits,” said spokeswoman Catherine Mortenson. “He believes it is irresponsible to add more unpaid for projects without making any effort whatsoever to find saving elsewhere to pay for them.”