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Cal Cunningham, Coastal Leaders Warn Against Raiding Hurricane Relief Funding As Tillis Fails To Pass COVID-19 Relief

NC Local Leaders Say Disaster Relief Shouldn’t Be Used As A “Political Poker Chip,” Urge Immediate Action As Senate Adjourns Through Sept. 8

RALEIGH, NC — As Senator Thom Tillis called it quits and left Washington without passing needed COVID-19 relief, Cal Cunningham joined coastal leaders on a virtual press call to warn against the administration’s plans to raid hurricane relief funds under its new executive order to make up for the Senate’s failure to pass timely COVID-19 relief. 

The recent executive order would raid disaster relief funding in the middle of what is expected to be one of the most active hurricane seasons. Now, the Senate has adjourned until September 8 without passing COVID-19 relief, putting additional pressure on communities and families who want Congress to act to expand the enhanced unemployment benefits, provide relief to cash-strapped towns and cities, and provide resources for schools as kids return to class. 

During the event, Cal Cunningham said: “Now, as Senate Republicans have walked away from the table, packed up shop, and gone home, the administration has signed executive orders that draw funds from disaster relief here in the middle of hurricane season. They are tapping funds available to FEMA, that we know here in North Carolina, are critical to being ready to respond when the next storm lands. It’s the wrong solution for our state.”

He was joined by local leaders along North Carolina’s coast who emphasized the need for Washington to deliver aid to their communities. 

“From COVID-19 to hurricane relief, we need a Senator in Washington who will lead the charge to bring aid to North Carolina,” said Shallotte Mayor Walter Eccard. “Unfortunately, in recent months when Mayors across Eastern North Carolina called for help, Senator Tillis only answered with silence. North Carolina deserves better.” 

“A lesson I learned from my dad that could be well passed on to our congressional representatives,” said Carolina Shores Mayor Joyce Dunn. “When you’re facing a crisis, you don’t go on vacation — you stay and fight.”

The News & Observer editorial board wrote today that the president’s executive orders were a “short-term stunt” and North Carolinians out of work deserve “true relief, not the illusion of it.” On Tuesday, Cal Cunningham issued a statement calling out Senator Tillis for his continued inaction, leading to the raiding of hurricane relief funds: “[He] should have done his job and prevented unemployment insurance from expiring in the first place.” Now, he’s too weak to speak out against the effect it would have on disaster relief for his state and instead of finding a solution for North Carolina, leaves for recess for the rest of the month. 

“For communities like mine up and down the Outer Banks, hurricane relief isn’t a political issue, it’s personal,” Dare County Commissioner Danny Couch. “Disaster relief should never be used as a political poker chip and we need leaders in Washington like Cal who understand that.”