Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) used the devastating tornado outbreak that struck parts of Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas overnight on Friday to take a political shot at Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R).
What are the details?
As daybreak exposed the enormous destruction across parts of America, Paul immediately took action to help his constituents. Paul wrote President Joe Biden early Saturday asking that he expedite requests for federal assistance.
Paul, in fact, spent much of his Saturday working to help Kentuckians impacted by the devastating storms. He worked with FEMA to help coordinate the federal response, and compiled a list of resources for those who need help.
Swalwell, however, couldn't pass up the opportunity to bash Paul.
The California Democrat responded to a message from Paul about the storms by urging Americans not to forget that Paul "has voted against helping most Americans most times they're in need."
"We should do all we can to help our Kentucky neighbors. God be with them — they are hurting. But do not for one second forget that @RandPaul has voted against helping most Americans most times they’re in need," Swalwell said.
But is that true?
As one person promptly pointed out to Swalwell, Paul has "never questioned the need" for disaster relief, but "[he has] only opposed how we fund it."
In fact, while Paul's voting record may show that he has voted against some disaster relief funding, he never questioned the need for it. Every time the issue surfaces, Paul raises issues of how disaster relief is funded, and whether monies should be reallocated from other government programs, such as foreign aid, to address domestic crises.
For example, after voting against a bill that would have provided recovery funds to areas hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Paul explained that he supported disaster relief funds, but not new government spending.
"I would have given them 9 billion and I would've taken the 9 billion from somewhere else," he said. "I would have taken it from foreign aid and said you know what, we don't have money for Egypt or Pakistan this year because we have to help the Northeast."
In fact, Paul made those comments as he opposed a second Hurricane Sandy-related relief bill. The first bill provided $9 billion in relief funds, while the second amounted to $51 billion, which Paul said was filled with pork.
Meanwhile, while opposing legislation that triggered more government spending in response to Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Paul explained once again that he opposed such spending, and urged Congress to reallocate money earmarked to go oversees to fund disaster relief.
"Instead of continuing [sending money overseas], let’s take a portion of that money and spend it here to help the victims of this great disaster," Paul wrote in essay for The Hill.
"They say we are out of money to pay for hurricane relief. So instead of finding that money somewhere else in the budget, they simply want to raise the limit on our credit card," he added. "This has to stop. We spend too much. We owe too much. We cannot keep spending money we do not have."
In addition to Swalwell learning that Paul does not oppose helping Americans, but rather opposes wasteful government spending, the California Democrat's comments generated backlash against his character.
Swalwell was peppered with thousands of responses. His comments were characterized as "genuinely disgusting" and "[t]he very worst of Congress. Right here. In broad daylight."