Barr, Massie off to a dubious start; Can Ky. get political disaster relief?

U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington
U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington

Kentucky's freshmen in Congress wasted no time establishing themselves on the fringe of their party.

Reps. Andy Barr of Lexington and Thomas Massie of Vanceburg were among the 67 Republicans in the House who last week voted against $9.7 billion to pay Superstorm Sandy flood insurance claims.

Massie also introduced his first bill: repeal of gun-free school zones.

The federal flood insurance program was almost broke, having been drained by Hurricane Katrina and other disasters, especially those in the Southeast. The measure makes good on insurance policies for which victims had paid. It was approved 354-67.

Barr issued a statement saying he supported hurricane relief but that the flood insurance payments should have been offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

Massie did not explain his vote.

The conservative Club for Growth had warned lawmakers to oppose the measure, insisting government should not be in the flood insurance business.

Thousands of Kentuckians have been among the Americans who relied on federal payments in the wake of recent weather disasters.

This country prides itself on sticking together in times of catastrophe. Barr and Massie should imagine their hometowns in ruins before insisting that victims wait on Congress to debate budget priorities before they can get relief.

Massie's proposal to allow guns on school grounds was roundly panned by Kentucky educators and police.

Massie argued that allowing guns in schools would make students safer from assaults such as the one in Connecticut.

In what must be one of the most insensitively worded statements ever to come out of a congression al office, Massie referred to schools as "target-rich" environments.

Newport Police Chief Tom Collins told Cincinnati.com "there's a million reasons why you don't want" to allow untrained people to carry guns in and around schools, including the possibility that the person will be overpowered and the gun taken away and used.

Schools rely on the law for enforcing rules against students bringing firearms to school. We should do nothing to undermine the clear message that it's wrong for anyone armed with a gun to approach or enter a school.

We wait with interest to see what, if anything, will penetrate the Tea Party dogma that's driving this Kentucky freshman class.