Hurricane Sandy: What Romney Says He'd Do to FEMA

Ryan's 2012 "Path to Prosperity" budget blueprint does not include specific cuts to disaster relief or FEMA, but it is possible that proposed cuts to non-defense discretionary spending could cause disaster relief funding to be shifted from the federal government to the states.

Here is what the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) says about Ryan's plan's effect on federal disaster funding:

"This form of discretionary federal aid would be subject to cuts under the Ryan budget. If it were scaled back substantially, states and localities would need to bear a larger share of the costs of disaster response and recovery, or attempt to make do with less during difficult times."

Congress struggled to come together last fall on a deal to pass a deal to avert a government shutdown last fall, and at the center of the fight was disaster funding. At the time, under strain after Joplin, it appeared that FEMA would run out of money to continue disaster relief through the end of the fiscal year in September. House Republicans demanded that more funding for federal disaster relief should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.

But when it became apparent FEMA would have enough money to close out the last fiscal year, a deal was eventually passed that contained $2.65 billion for FEMA this fiscal year with no offsets.

At the time, Ryan opposed a broader federal disaster-relief fund backed by Obama that budgets for aid before natural disasters occur, the Associated Press reported. The plan eventually was signed into law. Ryan would prefer to find disaster funding from cutting elsewhere in the budget.

But Republicans have argued that Obama has been too quick to make federal disaster declarations, which allow FEMA to spend money on relief, and thus have overused the agency's powers.

A report from the right-leaning Heritage Foundation notes that Obama issued 243 disaster declarations in 2011, while George H.W. Bush issued 173 during his entire four-year presidency. The report notes that the trend began with former President Bill Clinton and continued under George W. Bush.

Conservative accuse Obama of overusing disaster declarations have demanded that Congress impose greater restrictions on when they can be issued.

"Major multi-state storms, like Hurricane Sandy, are exactly why FEMA was created. Non-lethal 5.8 earthquakes in Virginia are not," the conservative Washington Examiner wrote today.

A2013 budget resolution from Ryan's committee in Congress called on FEMA to use more scrutiny in distributing disaster funds to states and localities in an effort to cut down on disaster declarations.

But Obama's supporters are quick to remind that there have been a number of significant natural disasters during his first term that have warranted a robust federal response, from wildfires in Texas and California, to Hurricane Irene, saying that FEMA funding is the last thing that should be cut.

With Hurricane Isaac threatening the GOP convention in Tampa in August, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) criticized the Republicans' approach.

"Some Republicans are still fighting this," she told the AP. "And it is kind of ironic that the storm was at some point headed towards Tampa during their convention. That would have been the irony of all ironies for this storm to hit Tampa when the Republicans were the ones saying `we need to find offsets'" for disaster aid.

ABC News' Zachary Wolf contributed research.

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