The Kansas congressional delegation split on legislation sent to the president Friday delivering $15.3 billion in emergency aid for Harvey storm victims, escalating the nation’s debt limit and funding the federal government for three months.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts joined with U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, who serves the 1st District of western Kansas, by voting in support of the measure forwarded to President Donald Trump.
The four other members from Kansas — U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins, Kevin Yoder and Ron Estes — voted “no.”
Jenkins, of the 2nd District in eastern Kansas, said disaster aid for regions hammered by the hurricane was improperly funneled into a mega-bill that increased the federal debt limit and provided financing for the government through Dec. 8.
“I was elected by Kansans to help get our national debt under control and this bill only makes the problem worse,” said Jenkins, who isn’t seeking re-election in 2018. “Make no mistake, I stand with Texas but I believe this could have been handled differently – one vote on disaster relief and a separate vote on the continuing resolution and debt limit increase that included spending reforms.”
The Senate approved the resolution 80-17 on Thursday, and the House answered 316-90 on Friday. All votes in opposition were cast by Republicans.
Moran said political leaders in Washington, D.C., abdicated responsibility to rein in the soaring national debt by turning to short-term fixes.
“This pattern is a threat to our economic health, job creation and the ability of the next generation of Americans to pursue bright futures,” he said. “To couple this kind of short-sighted punt with disaster relief funding is Washington at its worst.”
Yoder, the 3rd District congressman, said he was frustrated Trump struck a bargain with Democrats on the government funding pieces. Yoder had endorsed a previous stand-alone Harvey bill.
“That package was targeted, necessary and narrowly met the immediate needs of victims. It spent taxpayer dollars wisely and didn’t take advantage of emergency needs to achieve other controversial priorities,” Yoder said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is campaigning against Yoder’s re-election in 2018, questioned his vote against the bundled legislation.
“Rep. Yoder’s vote against relief for American families still reeling from Hurricane Harvey would be reckless and cruel on its own, but the fact that it was also a vote for a government shutdown and defaulting on America’s debt gives new meaning to the word irresponsible,” said Rachel Irwin, a DCCC spokeswoman.
Estes, who represents the Wichita area and the 4th District, said he voted against the measure because it was a bailout of “politicians who don’t want to do the hard work of setting priorities and living within our means.”