Democrats are accusing Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., of hypocrisy for supporting a budget that eliminates a flood-control program while at the same time requesting federal help for the state’s imminent spring flooding.
The spending bill that passed the House in February cuts federal spending by about $60 billion from 2010 levels. Among other things, it zeroes out funding for the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operation, a program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
“The cuts that she’s voting for have real consequences for South Dakotans,” state party chairman Ben Nesselhuf said Friday.
Congress is still working on a budget compromise, so the program is still intact. Messages left at the state NRCS office were not returned because the office already had closed for the day.
This week, Noem joined Republican Sen. John Thune and Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson in sending a delegation letter to President Obama to formally request a federal disaster delegation.
Asked about the flood program during a conference call Thursday, Noem said the spending bill is a necessary step to rein in federal spending.
“I think that comes down to the ultimate discussion that we need to be having every day up here in Washington, D.C. (and that is) funding our priorities,” she said.
“And when we get our budget under control and our spending under control, we’re going to make certain that we have those federal dollars there for the disasters that happen and available for South Dakota,” Noem said. “So we’re doing everything possible that we can for South Dakota in this flooding situation that we’re having this spring, and we’re going to do all that we can to get them the resources that they need.”
In an e-mail, Haley Morris, a regional spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Noem’s vote is evidence of an “extremist agenda.”
“It goes against common sense for Representative Kristi Noem to vote to eliminate a program that helps prevent floods when this is a critical challenge facing South Dakotans,” she wrote.