Japan Quake Cause for Reevaluation of Proposed Tsunami Warning Center Cuts

Photo and Story by Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

The U.S. House, Tuesday, passed yet another temporary spending bill that would keep the government running for three more weeks. It’s also expected to pass the Senate.

Heavy-lifting now needs to be done on agreeing to a long-term spending plan, and that’s where things get tricky.  The House passed $61 billion in cuts last month, but it included many things that displease Senate Democrats.  One of them is a $126 million cut from the west coast’s tsunami warning system.  It would force the National Weather Service, which runs the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, to cut spending the rest of this fiscal year by 30 percent.  That’s come under fire this week in the aftermath of the devastating tsunami that hit Japan.

Congressman Don Young and Senator Lisa Murkowski voted with their Republican colleagues to pass that House bill that cuts the tsunami funding.  Young did not return requests for comment Tuesday.

But Senator Lisa Murkowski says she voted for that bill as a symbolic act to demonstrate the need for cuts, and that there are many elements in it she doesn’t like.  The Republican says she’ll fight to keep money in the tsunami warning program.

Senator Mark Begich says the attempt to cut the tsunami warning system is indicative of the Republicans’ tactics right now.  He calls it playing politics.

Both Begich and Murkowski are expected to vote for the short term spending bill that will hit the Senate this week, but they are also seen as critical votes on a longer-term bill, since both are moderates being courted by their parties and the White House.

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