By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Major natural disasters always seem to showcase government at its best and its worst.

While they’re unfolding, we watch the first responders, in awe, at their competence and courage. We see politicians come together to facilitate the first wave of help.

But then the immediate crisis passes and expensive, long-term rebuilding and recovery begin.

harvey5 Keller @ Large: For Hurricane Harvey Relief, Congress Must Bring A Game

People walk down a flooded street in Houston, Texas on August 28, 2017. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

That’s a tougher mountain to climb.

Katrina exposed chronic bureaucratic incompetence at the federal and state level. The halting financial response to Sandy exposed how divided Congress had become, even in a moment of crisis.

And you’ve got to wonder how the current crew in DC will handle this fiasco.

Remember, just five years ago lots of Republicans balked at the $50 billion price tag for Sandy recovery on the grounds that spending cuts should be found to make up for it. The Harvey pricetag will surely be multiples of that, rolling out for years, at a moment when Congress seems as or more divided over budget priorities than ever.

Where are they going to get all this money?

From the Pentagon?

Medicare and Medicaid?

Veterans’ benefits?

harvey7 Keller @ Large: For Hurricane Harvey Relief, Congress Must Bring A Game

Rescue workers and volunteers help residents following Hurricane Harvey on August 29, 2017 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

They’ve got a month to cut a deal to reauthorize government spending, or FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program will go broke. Before Harvey, the president was saying he’d let it shut down if he doesn’t get his wall funding, but doesn’t seem to have the votes for that.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s showtime.

And you’d better bring your “A” game.


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