When Moore, Oklahoma, was hit with a devastating tornado last spring, a number of Oklahoma lawmakers were put in a tough position. While both Oklahoma senators and Reps. Jim Bridenstone, Markwayne Mullin and James Lankford had voted against a $50 billion aid package to provide disaster relief to the East Coast after Hurricane Sandy, they had no problem with asking for federal aid for their own state. Ultimately, affected communities in Oklahoma ended up receiving over $25 million in federal aid.
But that hasn’t stopped Oklahoma Republicans from downplaying the role the federal government played in disaster relief in Moore. Like Sen. Jim Inhofe, who said that federal aid to Moore would be “totally different” than Sandy relief, Rep. Mullin told a town hall meeting this summer that the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado, unlike Sandy, showed the triumph of “self-responsibility.” The tornado in Oklahoma actually “proved my point” on Sandy relief, he said, because unlike those affected by Sandy, “we started taking care of ourselves, neighbor taking care of neighbors, and that’s what we had to do.”
Mullin’s remarks came in response to a question about the Patriot Act and NSA surveillance, which he used as a pivot to talk about the role of government in disaster relief.
“At some point, like I say, we’ve got to be responsible for ourselves,” he said. “So, I can’t tell you exactly how I’ll vote on [Patriot Act repeal] because I haven’t seen it, but I can tell you what I’ll refer back to: self-responsibility. I’m ok with voting no on some of this stuff, but I’m also ok with knowing I’ve got to stand on my own two feet.”