Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) couldn’t help taking a swipe at President Donald Trump on Monday even as she described the dire conditions of her Houston constituents while now-Tropical Storm Harvey continues to pummel the region.
Speaking with CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Lee said she believes Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress will support emergency aid, but she linked the storm to Trump’s unrelated threat to shut down the government if Congress does not fund his proposed border wall — a threat made before the hurricane was set to strike Texas.
“I think the real question is that the president of the United States has to be part of that leadership, with a commitment not to shut this government down,” she said. “I expect a bipartisan vote on restoring this swath of devastation that is not finishing today. It’s continuing.”
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If past shutdown fights are any guide, however, emergency services would continue without interruption.
What’s more, Trump on Monday promised to support billions of dollars in aid to Texas, adding that he expects bipartisan support in Congress.
“To the people of Texas and Louisiana, we are 100 percent with you,” he said.
Lee is not the only person to politicize the hurricane. Trump faced criticism from detractors in the media — including before the storm even made landfall.
CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta tweeted Friday, “Good morning Mr. President … what is your administration doing about the hurricane to keep Texans safe?”
Trump, in fact, spent Friday monitoring the storm and conferring with key officials in the government.
Trump sent 19 tweets about the hurricane from Friday through Sunday. But some journalists criticized him for not tweeting exclusively about the storm. A tweet promoting a book by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke drew particular ire.
“Or you could instead spend that money helping victims of Harvey,” tweeted CNN anchor Jake Tapper in response.
CNN commentator Ana Navarro, one of the cable network’s favorite anti-Trump Republicans, responded to Trump’s tweet by calling him “#PINTO (President in Title Only), staying true to form.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also took heat. His alleged sin was voting against an aid package for states and cities harmed by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. MSBNC’s Katy Tur suggested it was hypocritical for him now to seek assistance for his state in its time of need. Cruz responded by saying that two-thirds of the Sandy bill was for unrelated pet projects.
“The accurate thing to say is that I and others enthusiastically and emphatically supported hurricane relief,” Cruz said. “The problem with that particular bill was that it turned into a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork.”
Lee also took an implicit swipe at Cruz.
“I was right there at my friends on the Northeast with Hurricane Sandy,” she said. “I was so disappointed that we would treat people who had been so devastated in that manner. I don’t view this as a threat. I view it as a challenge.”