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Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, defended his 2013 vote against a Superstorm Sandy relief bill for the New York-New Jersey area on Monday as Hurricane Harvey ravaged parts of his home state and officials turned to the federal government for support.
Cruz stood by his controversial vote when pressed in an appearance on MSNBC, saying that the aid bill for Sandy rebuilding was bloated with "unrelated pork" and "two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy."
Cruz, who is advocating for federal funds for Texas, said he is confident that the government will provide the needed resources for Harvey's victims and doubled down on his Sandy relief "no" vote, saying "there’s time for political sniping later."
"The accurate thing to say is that I and a number of others enthusiastically and emphatically supported hurricane relief for Sandy," the senator said on MSNBC. "The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork...it’s not right for politicians to exploit a disaster when people are hurting to pay for their own political wish list."
Sandy's deadly and destructive force pummeled New York City and New Jersey and other parts of the region in 2012, causing tens of billions in damage and killing more than 100 people.
The following year, a $50 billion aid package to help victims was introduced and Cruz voted against the measure, as did 23 House members from Texas and Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn. The measure passed anyway.
GOP Rep. Pete King of New York needled the Texas lawmakers on Twitter last weekend, saying he would not vote against Harvey aid because "one bad turn doesn't deserve another."
Coryn's spokesperson said in a tweet on Friday that the senator had voted for a previous Sandy aid package that did not become law and his vote against the measure that passed was because it had "extraneous (money) for non-relief items."
Most the 2013 bill included aid that went to victims of Sandy and much of the "pork" was aid added by Democrats to include damage from Hurricane Isaac, which hit the Gulf Coast during that year, as well as funding for infrastructure and community development programs impacted by Sandy, according to NJ Advance Media.
"This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington — an addiction to spending money we do not have," Cruz said in a statement at the time. "The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt."