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Inhofe, Coburn Caution Against Extra Spending in Tornado Aid

Oklahoma’s two Republican senators are pledging any assistance needed for areas devastated by the tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., on Monday, but they’re maintaining their conservative views on federal spending.

Sen. James M. Inhofe is warning against a supplemental spending bill that balloons with money to assist other areas. Asked by MSNBC about his opposition to the aid package for recovery from Superstorm Sandy on the East Coast, he called the situation in Moore “totally different” because of extraneous provisions.

“They were getting things, for instance, that was supposed to be in New Jersey. They were getting things in the Virgin Islands. They were fixing roads there. They were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C., everybody was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place,” Inhofe said. “That won’t happen in Oklahoma.”

In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ranking member Tom Coburn said he had already spoken with the top Homeland Security official about the need for aid.

“I spoke with Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano last night about FEMA’s response. We still don’t know the scope of devastation and won’t for some time. But, as the ranking member of [the] Senate committee that oversees FEMA, I can assure Oklahomans that any and all available aid will be delivered without delay,” Coburn said.

Coburn’s statement Tuesday followed comments Monday first reported by CQ Roll Call that emergency supplemental money for tornado recovery would need offsets, maintaining his long-held view on that issue.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., both came to the floor Tuesday morning and pledged to offer whatever help was necessary. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, also told reporters Tuesday that tornado victims would get needed aid.

“I remember full well a tornado that went through my hometown of Louisville back in the 1970s, knocked down every house on the street of my parents,” McConnell said. “My mother was in the basement and mercifully it skipped over our house for some reason but leveled all the houses across the street and ones next door.”

“While we may not know the extent of the damage for some time, we will continue to do everything in our power to help the people of Oklahoma as they recover from these terrible tornadoes. And we will stand vigilant today, ready to send additional assistance as more storms threaten the region,” Reid said.

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