|West, Texas explosion aftermath|
The death toll and injury count in the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion that took place last Wednesday continues to rise, with 35-40 dead and 60 still unaccounted for. Recovering from the disaster will likely take a lot of time and resources, and President Obama has already pledged federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other agencies.
Some Texas Congressmen have also requested aid to help the victims and the town rebuild. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he is “working to ensure that all available resources are marshaled to deal with the horrific loss of life and suffering that we've seen.” Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) has said that he, plus Senators Cruz and John Cornyn (R-TX), are working with Congressional leaders to extend necessary assistance. Cornyn has also said there is funding under his subcommittee for chemical site security standards and infrastructure protection.
Yet when Northeast cities needed disaster relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a storm that killed hundreds, all three Congressmen voted against the aid package:
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz lambasted the Sandy Aid package, voting against the measure in January. Cruz issued a statement explaining that he voted against the aid because it included a number of spending measures that were not related to disaster relief, including “Smithsonian repairs, upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes, and more funding for Head Start.”
After Flores voted against the Sandy aid package, he justified his vote by saying the package was “too large” and did “more than meet the immediate needs of Sandy victims.”
On top of seeking funding for West, Texas, John Cornyn has also requested drought relief and disaster aid for wildfires in the past.
Funding would have also been useful in preventing the blast in the first place. The plant has been victim of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) under-funding as it hadn't been inspected since 1985. Yet Flores voted for the 2011 House Republican budget, which would have reduced OSHA by $99 million, and also voted to pass the Budget Control Act, which has also decreased funding for OSHA’s inspections.