Tags: Gizzi | Oklahoma | Cole | aid

Rep. Cole: Okla. Twisters, Hurricane Sandy 'Apples and Oranges'

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Friday, 31 May 2013 11:07 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As Northeastern congressmen charge hypocrisy by Oklahoma lawmakers who opposed Hurricane Sandy aid and now want assistance for their states following a deadly tornado, Republican Rep. Tom Cole told Newsmax the two are "apples and oranges" and a public spat is unnecessary.

"There is no need to be in a fight, partisan or regional," said Cole from his home in Moore, Okla., the town hardest hit by the twister.

His remarks came days after Republican Rep. Peter King of New York, a vocal critic of opponents to Sandy aid, told Politico he thought "there's a lot of hypocrisy" from Oklahoma members of Congress who opposed federal assistance to Superstorm Sandy victims but might now support help for Oklahoma.

King was responding to Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who said on MSNBC that "everyone was getting in and exploiting the tragedy taking place" in New York and New Jersey by adding funding for unrelated projects to Sandy assistance. "That won't happen in Oklahoma."

"Now, Pete King is my friend and Jim Inhofe is my friend, and I don't want to be drawn into any argument," Cole said.

The estimated relief amount for Oklahoma "was already in the Federal Disaster Relief Fund," Cole said. "This was something that was voted on before the tornado came, so there is no special package to be voted on by Congress. The funding is already there. We don't have to go to Congress."

The amount almost always cited for tornado relief in the Sooner State -- $2 billion -- "was the initial estimate of the Oklahoma insurance commissioner," Cole said, "and private insurance will take care of a lot of this."

By contrast, the price tag for Sandy relief was $50 billion, which needed congressional approval. Cole, along with fellow Oklahoma GOP Reps. Frank Lucas and James Lankford, voted for the Sandy package. Freshman Republican Reps. Jim Bridenstine and Markwayne Mullin, and Oklahoma’s two senators, Republicans Inhofe and Tom Coburn, voted against.

"I never have a problem with people being prudent," Cole told Newsmax. "But what happened in the Northeast last year was something far greater in scale than what we are now experiencing here in Oklahoma. Something had to be done."

Cole said he agrees with Inhofe's much-reported statement to Newsmax that a "disservice" is being done by people trying to link the Oklahoma twister to climate change to advance their own agendas. Oklahoma, he said, has a long history of tornadoes.

"I don't believe the people who say this has something to do with climate change," Cole said. "I have seen tornadoes throughout my lifetime. There were tornadoes in these parts before there was an Oklahoma or a United States."

John Gizzi is chief political correspondent and White House correspondent for Newsmax.



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As Northeastern congressmen charge hypocrisy by Oklahoma lawmakers who opposed Hurricane Sandy aid and now want assistance for their states following a deadly tornado, Republican Rep. Tom Cole told Newsmax the two are "apples and oranges" and a public spat is unnecessary.
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Friday, 31 May 2013 11:07 AM
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