Rand Paul: FEMA Is ‘Inefficient’

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(CNN) — Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky held firm on his stance Thursday that local government provides better service when disaster strikes than the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

This summer, the Republican senator made headlines when he held up a bill re-authorizing the National Flood Insurance Program by attaching a non-related “personhood” amendment that called for defining life as beginning at conception.

Asked why he worked to stall the flood bill, Paul said the government was spending too much money it didn’t have.

“I have always maintained that FEMA should exist on money that comes in as revenue, but not on borrowed money,” the fiscal conservative said Thursday on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

Paul, a longtime critic of the agency, argued the U.S. should instead fund FEMA with the money it sends overseas in foreign aid. He also argued that local communities – as well as private groups such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross – do a better job than federal agencies in the immediate aftermath of large-scale emergencies.

The Republican senator shared a story about the local response in cities devastated by tornadoes earlier this year in Kentucky, saying “the churches stepped up.”

“Two thousand responders a day were being fed by churches, and the people were being put up in houses,” he said. “So I don’t think this is entirely a government response. I think it’s important to really laud the private folks, as well as the churches who step up.”

While he maintained “government is inefficient” in major disasters, he added, “I’m not saying government doesn’t have a role.”

Paul also weighed in on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s unexpected endorsement Thursday for President Barack Obama. The senator said he wasn’t surprised by the mayor’s support.

“I don’t think many thought that Nanny Bloomberg was going to be endorsing a Republican any time soon,” he said.

Paul added: “We can’t even get a decent size Coke to drink in New York City anymore, so no I don’t think that his proclivities or his sort of sense of philosophy really is Republican much at all.”

Now an independent, Bloomberg served his first two mayoral terms as a Republican. Before that he identified himself as a Democrat. Bloomberg remained neutral in the 2008 presidential election.

Citing Superstorm Sandy, which left much of his city underwater and powerless, the three-term mayor wrote in an op-ed on his website Thursday that he favored Obama’s views over those of Mitt Romney on the issue of climate change, which, he said, “may or may not” have been a factor in this week’s massive storm.

Bloomberg has faced pushback from Republicans in recent months after spearheading an effort to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and other venues. The New York City Board of Health approved the measure in September.
    
By Ashley Killough, and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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