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Cantor learns DeLay's lesson on disaster spending

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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday that if Congress passes an emergency spending bill to help Missouri’s tornado victims, the extra money will have to be cut from somewhere else.

“If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” Mr. Cantor, Virginia Republican, told reporters at the Capitol. The term “pay-fors” is used by lawmakers to signal cuts or tax increases used to pay for new spending.

That stands in stark contrast to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who six years ago stumbled when, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he said emergency spending would be tacked on to the deficit.

At the time, Mr. DeLay said the GOP, which had controlled Congress for most of the preceding decade, had whittled the federal budget down so well that there wasn’t room to cut enough to pay for the billions in hurricane-related spending.

“It is right to borrow to pay for it,” he said, adding that cuts could “attack the very economy” that Republicans were trying to bolster.

He took flak from conservatives who said after years of expanding budgets under President George W. Bush, Republicans in Congress should have turned to cuts before deficit-spending.

 

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