01/31/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Opponents of Sandy Relief Should Form the 'Jackass' Caucus

House Sandy relief vote
To the 180 Members of the House of Representatives Who Voted Against Sandy Disaster Relief:

I write following the House of Representatives' passage of HR 152, the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, which will fund relief and rebuilding for the tens of millions of victims of Hurricane Sandy. I suggest the formation of a caucus, composed of the 180 members who opposed HR 152. These members will be united in their belief that for too long, Washington has been ruled by the tired convention that survivors of climatological and meteorological disasters should receive federal assistance. This caucus will boldly oppose the conventional wisdom of the American people, that we are elected to promote the general welfare of this nation, and commit to rejecting any federal support for the victims of floods, wildfires, storms, or drought.

Former Sen. Al D'Amato of New York has called the opponents of Sandy relief a "bunch of jackasses." It's a term that these persecuted members should embrace proudly. The newly formed "Jackass Caucus" should accept among its membership all those who reject the notion that government should provide for those suffering from devastating weather emergencies.

I recognize that many potential members of the Jackass Caucus may not seem qualified at first glance. After all, many of you have been the first to request assistance when disasters have struck your districts in the past. For instance, when enormous floods struck Nashville for the second consecutive year in 2011, the entire Tennessee Congressional delegation urged President Obama to give support, writing, "Federal assistance is critical to help our state and local governments initiate recovery efforts and to start repairing infrastructure." And this past summer, after drought prompted the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare the largest-ever federal disaster area, several prospective members of the Jackass Caucus encouraged your constituents to apply for USDA emergency loans.

But circumstances have now shifted, and those seeking membership in the Jackass Caucus must address the elephant in the room: The Nashville floods and this summer's drought were both linked by scientists to human-induced climate change. With each catastrophe, an increasing number of citizens are recognizing that our weather system is distorted by fossil-fuel pollution. Because soliciting federal help for climate disasters may be construed to imply acceptance of the scientific consensus on climate change -- which I know you reject -- members of the Jackass Caucus will pledge never again to request federal relief for extreme weather disasters.

Members of the Jackass Caucus representing coastal districts in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia should stand prepared to disregard a June report from the U.S. Geological Survey outlining accelerating sea level rise and the National Snow and Ice Data Center's finding of record Arctic sea ice melt this past summer. Members of the Jackass Caucus in the drought-stricken Midwest and Southwest should overlook the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's report that 2012 was the hottest year in recorded history for the lower 48. All members of the Jackass Caucus should be firmly committed to ignoring the warnings of the 2013 National Climate Assessment report, which fingered carbon pollution as the cause of more frequent and intense weather events, "including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts."

With HR 152 passed in the House, it awaits Senate action. I submit that the Jackass Caucus should make its first order of business urging their counterparts in the Senate to join them in opposition to Sandy aid. If a Jackass Caucus were to be formulated in the Senate as well, it would surely be a formidable force in stopping governmental action that too often gives the appearance of global warming acceptance. If even half of the senators representing states affected by global warming were to oppose Sandy relief, it would be enough to stop Sandy relief dead in its tracks. And now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has opted against meaningful filibuster reform in that illustrious body, thwarting Sandy relief should prove even easier: preventing Sandy survivors from rebuilding New York City on the federal dime might only take a mere 40 Jackasses. I urge you to formulate this caucus and begin organizing immediately.


Brad Johnson
Campaign Manager, Forecast the Facts