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Coburn Wants Tornado Disaster Aid to Be Offset

The tornado damage near Oklahoma City is still being assessed and the death toll is expected to rise, but already Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere.

CQ Roll Call reporter Jennifer Scholtes wrote for Monday evening that Coburn said he would “absolutely” demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress provides.

Coburn added, Scholtes wrote, that it is too early to guess at a damage toll but that he knows for certain he will fight to make sure disaster funding that the federal government contributes is paid for. It’s a position he has taken repeatedly during his career when Congress debates emergency funding for disaster aid.

Scholtes points out that Coburn was one of 36 Republican senators who voted against disaster funding for Superstorm Sandy in January.

A tornado or tornadoes that ripped through central Oklahoma have killed at least 51, according to the New York Times.

Scholtes writes of the disaster funding issue: “There’s no telling yet how much FEMA will use to respond to the tornado that hit near Oklahoma City on Monday. But FEMA spent more than $200 million to aid Missouri after the tornado that tore through Joplin almost exactly two years ago.”

Scholtes notes that the White House issued a statement Monday evening, saying the Federal Emergency Management Agency was monitoring the storm.

“Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has spoken with Gov. Mary Fallin to make sure there are no unmet needs and to make clear that at the president’s direction the administration and FEMA stand ready to provide all available assistance in response to the severe weather,” the White House said in the statement.

Fallin on Monday also called up the Oklahoma National Guard to assist rescue efforts.

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