Ruston tornado damage

Aerial video via Louisiana State Police shows the damage in Ruston after a tornado ripped through parts of town.

Louisiana U.S. Reps. Mike Johnson, R-Benton, and Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, had better pray that the rains stay away from their districts. And the tornadoes and hurricanes, not to mention the other unpredictable but increasingly common extreme weather events that can leave communities shattered.

The two congressmen were among the 58 Republicans to cast “no” votes on a long-delayed disaster aid bill that the House finally approved Monday. Joining a united front of Democrats in voting “yes” were fellow Louisiana Republicans Steve Scalise of Jefferson Parish and Garret Graves of Baton Rouge. Ralph Abraham of Alto, a candidate for governor this fall, missed the vote.

The bill includes an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program through Sept. 30, so there’s an immediate benefit to Louisiana.

There’s potential harm, though, in Louisiana representatives thumbing their noses at other states’ needs — not only because it’s inhumane, but because Louisiana has had plenty of experience being on the receiving end of federal disaster funds.

Johnson’s and Higgins’ opposition was symbolic, given that there was clear majority support for the measure. It had stalled previously because several House conservatives objected to a procedure to pass it unanimously while many members were back home in their districts for the Memorial Day break, but they’re back in Washington now. Among the concerns raised by opponents were that the bill doesn’t include money for border security, which is utterly irrelevant to the matter at hand, and the $19 billion price tag.

So neither Higgins nor Johnson were able to stop the aid from flowing, which is a good thing. But they did make a statement — one that they may come to regret the next time their state is the one asking the rest of the country for help.


Follow Stephanie Grace on Twitter, @stephgracela.