DeLauro to tour storm damage, with Pelosi in tow

Is Rep. Rosa DeLauro still trying to undo the political damage from her belated return from Italy, where she was vacationing when Tropical Storm Irene hit Connecticut?

Here’s one sign: the 3rd District Democrat is bringing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to her district Friday for a tour and briefing on the storm damage-along with photo-op and media availability.

DeLauro and Pelosi, along with Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and East Haven Mayor April Capone, will go to the FEMA Disaster Assistance Center in East Haven, where they’ll get an update on recovery efforts from federal and state officials. Then they’ll tour areas damaged by the storm.

The press event comes as Congress is still deadlocked over a disaster assistance bill, even as FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund has now fallen below $400 million. Republicans have called for $1 billion in immediate disaster aid to replenish the fund, but want that money offset by a $1 billion cut to a federal loan program for high-tech vehicle manufacturing.

Democrats strongly oppose that cut; they say disaster relief has always been treated as emergency spending, not subject to normal budgetary rules, and it should go through now without any offsets.