Majority want federal funds for disasters, regardless of cost

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 9:00am

Nearly six in ten Americans say the federal government should provide funds to states slammed by natural disasters without having to cut spending in other areas of the budget, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-nine percent of people questioned in a Washington Post/Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday say federal emergency aid does not need to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget, as some GOP lawmakers have urged. Nearly seven in ten Democrats, 57% of independents, and even 52% of Republicans questioned agree.

After Superstorm Sandy caused billions in damage to the northeast coast last autumn, many congressional Republicans voted against appropriating additional federal funds for relief, saying the aid should be offset by spending cuts in other areas. The funding was eventually passed by Congress.

When tornadoes devastated the town of Moore, Oklahoma at the beginning of last week, the issue of offsets was once again in the spotlight. Both of the state's Republican U.S. senators, Tom Coburn and James Inhofe, voted against the Sandy relief funding over budget concerns, and at first said any additional funding for Oklahoma would need to be off set as well.

But they added that in their state's case, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had more than enough existing money available for aid to tornado victims, and additional federal funds would not be needed.

The Washington Post/Pew Research Center poll was conducted May 23-26, after the disaster in Oklahoma, with 1,005 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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