Bolling Falsely Accuses Obama Of Voting Against Katrina Relief Funds

Fox's Eric Bolling suggested that President Obama was hypocritical in his criticism of the government's response to Katrina by claiming Obama voted against waiving a bill that restricted emergency funding while accusing former President Bush of refusing to waive those same funds. But Obama, who strongly supported the measure, voted for a previous version of the bill which would have provided the same relief funds, but also included a timetable for withdrawal from the Iraq war.

While hyping the Daily Caller's 2007 video that purportedly showed “racially-charged rhetoric” from then-Senator Obama, The Five co-host Eric Bolling claimed that Obama voted against waiving the Stafford Act, which mandates local governments match a portion of federal relief funds, while attacking the government for not waiving the Act:

But Bolling's attack is way off base. Then-Senator Obama did vote to waive the Stafford Act for Katrina relief. In fact, he was one of the Senate's major proponents for waiving the Stafford Act.

In 2007, two similar supplemental spending bills contained funding for Katrina relief that was not subject to Stafford Act restriction.  At the time Obama opposed one version of the bill because it did not contain a timeline for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. In a May 24, 2007, statement explaining his vote against the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, Obama said: “With my vote today, I am saying to the President that enough is enough. We must negotiate a better plan that funds our troops, signals to the Iraqis that it is time for them to act and that begins to bring our brave servicemen and women home safely and responsibly.”

While Obama voted against the 2007 supplemental spending bill Eric Bolling is referring to, he voted for the other version of the supplemental bill that included both a timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and a waiver for the Stafford Act that would provide relief to New Orleans. 

In fact, Obama was a strong, consistent proponent of waiving the Stafford Act for Katrina recovery. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune (accessed via Nexis), Obama had called for unrestricted relief funding in January of 2007:

Lieberman and Landrieu were joined by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a presidential hopeful who made the most of the opportunity offered by a swarming international media to say he was “embarrassed” by the White House's handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.


At the hearing Monday, Obama seemed unsatisfied with many of the answers Powell gave. Asked why the federal government had not waived the requirement of a 10 percent matching payment from local governments for cleanup and public buildings, as it had for Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York, Powell said it didn't need to because the state could pay the match using federal money.

Less than an hour later Fox's Special Report aired a segment based on Bolling's manufactured conspiracy. Host Bret Baier explained that the Stafford Act “was waived by Congress in late May, 2007” just weeks before Obama's speech at Hampton University. Baier continued, “then-Senator Obama actually voted against the bill that included the prevision for New Orleans because it was part of the bill that increased Iraq War funding.” Baier also did not note that Obama had voted for an earlier supplemental bill that included the Stafford Act waiver for New Orleans relief: