Fight over disaster aid getting stormier

Rep. John Larson said he’ll cast a “no” vote today when House Republicans bring up a stop-gap funding measure to pay for disaster aid and keep the government running through the first weeks of fiscal year 2012.

He and other Democrats are fuming that House Republicans have included a $1 billion cut in funding from an advanced technology vehicle loan program, as a way to pay for $1 billion in extra disaster aid for fiscal year 2011.

“It’s just absurd politics,” Larson said. “This is the hostage politics.”

Republicans said the unforeseen disaster funding needs to be paid for with cuts to other elements of the budget, and the loan program is an easy target.

But storm victims, Larson said, should not be “held hostage to an ideology that was never imposed by anyone else.” Indeed, he and other Democrats have noted that Republicans never sought to find cuts to pay for the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan war, but now want to offset the cost of $1 billion in disaster aid.

Asked if he was concerned a no vote would not play well back in Connecticut, which was hard hit by Tropical Storm Irene, Larson said “people should know the truth.” He said the loan program cut would cost thousands of jobs.

The House is expected to vote on the stop-gap bill later today.