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Critics Call Sen. Rand Paul’s Request For Kentucky Disaster Aid Hypocritical

Kentucky Sen Rand Paul (R) has requested federal aid for his state after the tornadoes last  weekend. Critics are calling the request hypocritical due to Paul’s historic opposition of disaster aid for other regions.

This weekend, tornadoes ravaged Kentucky, with the storms destroying large portions of towns and leaving as many as 70 people presumed dead. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) requested federal aid for the state. Paul sent a letter to President Joe Biden, which the senator then shared to social media, asking the president for “expeditious approval” of Beshear’s request.

The Republican senator’s appeal for aid has garnered widespread disapproval. Critics point to Paul’s long history of opposing similar aid, and call this request hypocritical. For example, Paul voted against aid for Texas and Louisiana in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. In 2013, he likewise voted against relief for the Northeast after Hurricane Sandy.

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Paul opposes of increases to the federal deficit to fund legislation, and has cited this as his reasoning for denying appeals for disaster aid. He has stated that he would only support disaster aid if they were offset by other cuts to the federal budget.

After his “no” vote on Hurricane Sandy relief, Paul said, “I would have given them [$]9 billion and I would’ve taken the [$]9 billion from somewhere else.”

Similarly, he wrote in a 2017 op-ed after Hurricane Maria that he would not support relief to Texas and Puerto Rico, because, “They say we are out of money to pay for hurricane relief. So instead of finding that money somewhere else in the budget, they simply want to raise the limit on our credit card.” He added, “This has to stop. We spend too much. We owe too much. We cannot keep spending money we do not have.”

Despite these historic denials of disaster aid, Paul now advocates for aid to his home state of Kentucky. His detractors cite the apparent hypocrisy of this change in attitude. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) took his concern to social media, telling Twitter, “Do not forget for one second that @RandPaul has voted against helping most Americans most times they’re in need.”

Paul has defended his stance, arguing that he has not contradicted himself.

“The truth is that I’ve consistently advocated for FEMA disaster money for Kentucky over my 11 years in office, dozens of times,” he said in a statement to ABC News. “When additional supplemental disaster funds above that budgeted each year have been sought, I have asked that the additional money come from cutting waste elsewhere in the budget.”

However, it is currently unclear if the Senator will insist that Kentucky’s aid be offset by other cuts.

Biden has already pledged to aid Kentucky and other affected states after the storms. “The federal government is not going to walk away,” Biden said on Saturday. “This is one of those times when we aren’t Democrats or Republicans. We’re all Americans. We stand together as the United States of America.”

Camryn Bolkin

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