Kathy Castor blasts GOP plan to cut "hurricane hunters" by 40 percent

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Castor calls the proposed cuts, "devastating," and writes:


We must do everything we can to address our debt and deficit, however we must balance it in a way that recognizes the needs of communities. The costs of the hurricane hunters operations pale in comparison to the lives and money saved with the increasingly accurate predictions that come from these flights out of MacDill Air Force Base. James Franklin, head of forecast operations for the National Hurricane Center said, "If those flights were to stop for whatever reason, there would be a degradation in our forecasts for storms threatening the United States." The aircraft at MacDill are unique and crucial to the research being done in improving hurricane predictions. Improved predictions not only save lives, but can save millions of dollars in unnecessary business closures and evacuations."

Forecasts are said to be 30 percent more accurate because of the hurricane hunters.

Meanwhile, back to Eric Cantor for a moment. CL reported on Monday that he and fellow "Young Gun" Congressman Kevin McCarthy from California will host a local roundtable/fundraiser at the Palma Ceia Gold Club next week.

We have since been told, alas, that the media will not be invited to observe.

For several weeks now, Tampa area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor has been ripping into a proposal by House Republicans that would cut funding by 40 percent for so-called "hurricane hunters' - military plans that fly into hurricanes in order to measure and track them.

The issue has grown in resonance after Hurricane Irene churned up significant damage in the Northeast. Concurrently, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was saying even before the storm hit that Congress would need to make commensurate budget cuts to pay for FEMA funding for hurricane cleanup.

That statement has been met with considerable criticism, and not just from Republicans (In Politico, psychologist Drew Weston, who recently wrote a scathing op-ed about Barack Obama in the New York Times, writes, "The Republicans are so far out on an ideological limb on this one that you can see Russia from their perch.').

But the GOP now wants to cut down on monitoring hurricanes before they hit, prompting Congresswoman Castor late last week to write to House Speaker John Boehner, as well as Republicans Frank Wolf and Hal Rogers, the chairmen of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Subcommittee, and Appropriations, respectively:

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