WASHINGTON — Texas politicians who voted against relief dollars for New Jersey and the northeast after Superstorm Sandy are now looking for federal help for the damage from Hurricane Harvey.

When a vote came up in January 2013 on the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, eight Texas Republicans voted against increasing flood insurance, and 23 voted against emergency funding for victims. Both measures passed regardless and were signed into law by then-President Barack Obama.

After large relief bills had been approved following Katrina in 2005, New York and New Jersey lawmakers seeking help over Superstorm Sandy encountered resistance. Many Republicans opposed the full $51 billion aid package, which included a $34 billion amendment by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., that included grants for housing and other repairs patterned after the Katrina response.

Some hard feelings linger on the part of New York and New Jersey Republicans, who had to battle to win help for their Democratic-leaning states in the bitter aftermath of the 2012 election.

"Despite my TX colleagues refusal to support aid in #SouthJersey time of need, I will support emergency disaster $$ for those impacted," Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Texas Republicans overwhelmingly voted against the final Sandy aid bill. The state's two senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, opposed the aid package along with more than 20 House Republicans representing Texas. Now, many of them are citing additional spending contained in initial drafts of the legislation as the reason.

"They had funding for things as far away from Alaska that wasn't even touched by Sandy," said Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, whose district is hard hit by Harvey. "That was not a vote against disaster relief. That was a vote against pork-barrel spending."

  • "Emergency relief for the families who are suffering from this natural disaster should not be used as a Christmas tree for billions in unrelated spending, including projects such as Smithsonian repairs, upgrades to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration airplanes, and more funding for Head Start.."
  • "I am grateful for the leadership that our local and state officials have shown in the preparation and aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. While we have yet to see the full impact of the storm, there is no doubt that the thoughtful coordination of Texas elected officials and their counterparts at all levels have helped mitigate the devastation we have seen. And I'm thankful for the assurances from President Trump and Vice President Pence that full federal assistance stands at the ready once we begin the recovery and rebuilding process."

Gov. Chris Christie pushed for passage of the bill and joined New York governor Andrew Cuomo and Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy in thanking the Senate for approving it.

  • "Our genuine thanks and gratitude goes out to the U.S. Senate for its thoughtful consideration and passage of the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief package. Despite the difficult path in getting to this moment, the Senate membership clearly recognized early on the urgency and necessity of approving the full aid package and its importance in rebuilding our battered infrastructure and getting our millions of affected residents back on their feet as quickly as possible. To all Americans, we are grateful for their willingness to come to our aid as we take on the monumental task of rebuilding and we pledge to do the same should our fellow citizens find themselves facing unexpected and harsh devastation.
  • As Americans, we come together during times of crisis and today New Jersey’s heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the people of Texas at this very difficult time,” said Governor Christie. “During Superstorm Sandy, emergency and law enforcement response contingents from around the country came to our aid. New Jersey stands ready to assist Texas with their search and rescue response to the destruction and devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey and the recovery process begins.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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