Sen. Coburn: Tornado Recovery Not Federal Government’s Responsibility

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In an appearance on CBS’s Face The Nation Sunday, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn said he was standing by his position that recovery efforts for major disasters should be handled at the local level and not by the federal government.

“We've kind of transferred the responsibility for storms and damage to the federal government instead of to the state government,” Coburn said. Coburn has come under fire in the past over for his stance that any federal disaster aid must be offset by other budget cuts, a position that he is maintaining even after the EF5 tornado struck Moore, Okla. last week.

“We’ve created kind of a predicate that you don’t have to be responsible for what goes on in your state,” he continued.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer, also appearing on Face The Nation, disagrees.

“When the hand of God strikes in a very serious way, the localities can't handle it by themselves,” he said, “Americans band together and say, 'we're going to help the afflicted area.'”

Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin, also stressed the need for federal aid.

“This is a massive debris field,” she said. “It's not just a couple of blocks. It's miles. It's 17 miles long. Almost a mile and a half wide.”

Fallin told Face the Nation her first request of the president, who is visiting Moore Sunday afternoon, will be to ensure that money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency keeps flowing to those in need.

“We know at different times in the past, money hasn't always come as quickly as it should, so I'm hoping that FEMA will be very prompt to get the relief here,” Fallin said.

The governor also said that the building of more "safe rooms" for use during tornadoes is a conversation that school officials need to have. The tornado in Moore killed 24 people, including several children when it flattened an elementary school. Fallin said many schools across the state were already looking into building safe rooms.

“Many of them have rebuilt rooms of some sort as a safe room in their school, and we're certainly going to encourage that, but I do think it's important to have a very vigorous discussion as to what can we do.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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