Politics

Liberals Spread False Claim That Pence Opposed Funding Katrina Relief

Mike Pence / Getty

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a false story went viral claiming that Vice President Mike Pence opposed funding Hurricane Katrina relief while he was a member of the House of Representatives.

The story originated Tuesday on the left-wing site Daily Kos, where Democratic operative Scott Dworkin wrote a blog headlined, "WATCH: Pence Plead With Congress to Not Fund Hurricane Katrina Relief [sic]."

Included in the post was a video of a House floor speech Pence gave shortly after the disaster hit in 2005.

"Let’s figure out how we’re gonna pay for [Katrina spending]," Pence said. "Congress must ensure that a catastrophe of this nature does not become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren."

Dworkin later tweeted out the video, which was picked up by other liberals on Twitter, racking up thousands of retweets.

Among the liberal celebrities who shared the tweet were MSNBC's Joy Reid, famed comedy director Judd Apatow, and actor Mark Ruffalo.

Left-wing outlets like Death and Taxes and ShareBlue likewise reported the story, claiming that "Mike Pence used the Bible to explain why we shouldn't fund Katrina relief" and that Pence "[bludgeoned] those citizens by attaching his extremist political ideology to disaster relief bills, holding up vital support that was urgently needed."

But those claiming Pence opposed Katrina relief funding, or that he held up funding bills until they were fully paid for, are incorrect. The then-Indiana congressman supported tackling spending cuts only after the Katrina relief effort got the money it needed.

Pence himself says as much in the video posted by Dworkin.

"Later today, Congress will continue the work of funding the relief and recovery from Hurricane Katrina—and well we shouldby spending more than $50 billion to FEMA and other agencies," he said.

Hours after the speech in the viral video, the House voted 410-11 for $51.8 billion in relief without any spending cuts attached. Pence voted in favor of the measure.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and was signed the same day by President George W. Bush. It was not until weeks later that Pence, head of the Republican Study Group, unveiled "Operation Offset" to pay for the billions in spending.