DNC - McCain Picks Perfect Venue to Debunk His Reformer Rhetoric

Washington, DC - According to media reports, John McCain will attempt to use New Orleans as the backdrop for a speech tonight in which he will once again attempt to reposition his campaign.  Despite voting with President Bush 95 percent of the time, Senator McCain will attempt to cast himself as a reformer who will ensure that our government never again fails its people as the Bush Administration did during Hurricane Katrina. 

But John McCain's record tells a different story.  He has repeatedly voted to protect President Bush's reckless tax cuts for the wealthy instead of increasing funding for Katrina relief and recovery efforts. McCain also opposed the creation of a commission to identify the causes of the disaster, opposed extending emergency health care to Katrina victims, and voted against post-9/11 efforts to ensure our first responders had interoperable communications equipment--a problem that plagued emergency responders during Hurricane Katrina.

"John McCain trying to reposition himself as a reformer in New Orleans, where he has been part of the problem not the solution, may be the perfect metaphor for the double talk dominating his campaign," said Democratic National Committee spokesman Damien LaVera.  "Despite all of the rhetoric about being a different kind of Republican, John McCain joined President Bush in opposing the establishment of a commission to find out what went wrong during Hurricane Katrina, voted against funding for recovery and reconstruction efforts, and now opposes a catastrophic insurance fund.  As voters see more of John McCain's double talk, they'll see he is the wrong choice for America's future."



McCain Voted Against Appropriating $109 Billion In Supplemental Emergency Funding, Including $28 Billion for Hurricane Relief.  McCain voted against passage of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations of 2006. Passage of the emergency supplemental bill would appropriate roughly $109 billion in emergency supplemental funding for fiscal 2006. It would provide $72.4 billion in fiscal 2006 funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and foreign aid, not counting an almost 3 percent across-the-board cut to defense funds in the bill. It would provide more than $28 billion for hurricane relief, approximately $2.3 billion for pandemic flu preparations and $1.9 billion for border security efforts. [2006 Senate Vote #112, 5/4/2006]

McCain Voted Against Granting Access To Medicaid For Hurricane Katrina Victims For Up To Five Months.  McCain voted against an amendment to provide emergency health care and other relief for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The amendment would grant access to Medicaid to Hurricane Katrina victims for up to five months; it also provided full federal funding for Medicaid in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama for up to one year; provide $800 million to compensate providers caring for Katrina evacuees; it temporarily suspended the Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty; and permit states hit by or serving evacuees to access the TANF Contingency Fund. It would be offset with funds unspent by the FEMA.  [2005 Senate Vote #285, 11/3/2005]

McCain Voted Twice Against Establishing A Commission To Study The Response To Hurricane Katrina. McCain voted against amendments establishing a Congressional commission to examine Federal, State, and local response to devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in U.S. Gulf Region, especially in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other areas impacted in the aftermath; and makes immediate corrective measures to improve future responses. [2006 Senate Vote #6, 2/2/2006; 2005 Senate Vote #229, 9/14/2005]

McCain Opposed Granting Financial Relief To Those Affected By Hurricane Katrina.  In 2005, McCain voted against allowing up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina. [2005 Senate Vote #234, 9/15/2005]


McCain Voted To Eliminate A $100 Million Fund For Emergency Communications Equipment. McCain voted to support an amendment that eliminates $1 billion Commerce Department interoperability grant program and transfers funds to Department of Homeland Security for an uncreated interoperability grant program; and eliminates $100 million fund for strategic reserves of communications equipment designed for deployment in event of major disaster. [2007 Senate Vote #66, 3/7/2007]

McCain Repeatedly Voted Against Funding Increases For Communications Equipment For First Responders. In 2006, McCain voted against Sen. Stabenow's amendment that provided an additional $5 billion for emergency responders for reliable interoperable communications equipment to respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and public safety needs; and offsets by closing tax loopholes. In 2005, McCain twice voted against funding for emergency communication systems. [2006 Senate Vote #45, 3/15/2006; 2005 Senate Vote #227, 9/14/2005; 2005 Senate Vote #183, 7/14/2005]

McCain Voted Against Over $300 Million In Funding For FEMA. McCain voted against an amendment to provide an additional $301 million for disaster relief fund operated by FEMA. [2006 Senate Vote #199, 7/13/2006]

McCain Voted Against Making FEMA An Independent Agency.  McCain voted against an amendment to establish the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as an independent agency within the Executive Branch with a Director reporting directly to the President. It would require the agency's head to have significant expertise in the area of emergency preparedness and response. [2006 Senate Vote #193, 7/11/2006]

McCain Voted Against Allowing A Simple Majority To Waive The Budget Requirement For Natural Disaster Emergency Relief.  McCain voted against an amendment to allow three-fifths vote provisions of Balanced Budget amendment to be waived by majority vote in each House for fiscal year in which outlays result from declaration made by President and Congress that major disaster or emergency exists. History has proven that there is almost always widespread support for emergency funding when truly needed, and that it would not slow down fast action when disaster strikes. [1995 Senate Vote #66, 2/14/1995]

McCain Missed A Vote On Increasing FEMA Funding. McCain missed a vote to appropriate $107.3 billion in fiscal 2001 for the Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development departments and independent agencies (EPA, NASA and the FEMA) as well as $23.6 billion for the Energy Department and Army Corps of Engineers, and other independent agencies. [2000 Senate Vote #278, 10/19/2000]

McCain Voted Against $450 Billion For Natural Disasters Including Flooding and Drought. McCain voted against passage of a bill that would provide $76.8 billion for the Department of Agriculture and related agencies. It also would provide $2.1 billion in emergency spending for agriculture, including $450 million for natural disasters such as flooding and drought. [2000 Senate Vote #225, 7/20/2000]

But, McCain Tells Voters That The Government Must Be Better Prepared To Respond To Natural Disasters.  "We must also prepare, across all levels of government, far better than we have done, to respond quickly and effectively to another terrorist attack or natural calamity. I am not an advocate of big government, and the private sector has an important role to play in homeland security. But when Americans confront a catastrophes, either natural or man-made, their government, across jurisdictions, should be organized and ready to deliver bottled drinking water to dehydrated babies and rescue the aged and infirm trapped in a hospital with no electricity."  [CNN Live Feed (Jacksonville, FL), 4/3/08]


February 2008: McCain Bragged About His Opposition To A National Catastrophic Insurance Fund. In his speech to CPAC, McCain highlighted his opposition to the national insurance fund, bragging, "I campaigned in Florida against the national catastrophic insurance fund bill that passed the House of Representatives."  [John McCain CPAC Remarks As Prepared For Delivery, McCain Campaign email, 2/7/08]

January 2008: McCain Refused To Support National Catastrophic Insurance Fund. In a speech in Coral Gables, Florida, McCain suggested that the government should do more to bolster FEMA and rejected the National Catastropic Insurance Fund. McCain said, "I do not support a national catastrophic insurance policy… That insurance policy is there and it's called FEMA and it's called national disaster preparedness...I still do not have confidence that FEMA is capable of handling those responsibilities.'' ["Naked Politics" blog, Miami Herald, 1/21/08, http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2008/01/so-much-for-cri.html]