Sen. Pryor Politicizes Oklahoma Tornado Tragedy

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 99 views 

Normally politicians are quick to put aside politics when a tragedy strikes, but Sen. Mark Pryor took the opportunity to try score some points.  His seemingly tame statement is a thinly-veiled attempt to take a shot as his potential 2014 Republican opponent Congressman Tom Cotton.  Here is his statement (emphasis mine)…

My heart goes out to the families and communities affected by the severe storms in Oklahoma. Arkansas knows devastation, and we feel for Oklahoma’s enormous loss and suffering. But they’re not alone. With hard work and help from fellow Americans, they’ll rebuild, recover, and stand strong. Like I said when I cast my vote for the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Disaster Assistance Appropriations bill in January, I’ll continue to support disaster relief for communities in need. Arkansas is here for you, Oklahoma.

It seems to me the reason to bring up his vote for Hurricane Sandy Supplemental Disaster Assistance Appropriation is because Cotton was one of 67 Republicans who voted against the appropriation in the House.

“I pledged throughout my campaign to confront America’s debt crisis and today I upheld that pledge by voting against legislation that would have added another $10 billion to our staggering national debt because it did not offset that funding for the national flood-insurance program with equal spending cuts,” explained Cotton at the time.

But spokesman for Sen. Pryor’s office Michael Teague dismisses that the statement was politically motivated.

“It’s specifically mentioned because the federal disaster aid that will be used in Oklahoma primarily comes from the Stafford Disaster Relief fund. That account was extremely low at the end of last year. So, in January Congress passed the Hurricane Sandy Supplement and that money went to replenish the Stafford Disaster Relief fund. That’s also the same fund that Arkansas received its assistance from after the ice storms this year,” said Teague.

Okay, but it is clear to me that Pryor was trying to inject some politics into a human tragedy in our state next door.  His statement fits as part of the overall strategy of his Democratic Party to paint Cotton as an extremist.  Pryor’s statement could have said that he supports the Stafford Disaster Relief Fund but – in my opinion – pointed to the Sandy vote in an effort to paint a contrast.

“I totally dismiss it as politically motivated,” continued Teague in a follow-up.  “Do you dispute the facts of how we fund the disaster relief fund?  It appears you’re the only one injecting politics into the statement.”

It’s an attempt to score political points on a vote of Cotton and change the subject from – as the Senate Conservative Fund has been pointing out – his own record of voting with President Obama 95 percent of the time.