Review & Outlook: Leveraging a Hurricane - WSJ.com Here's the story: In June, House Republicans passed the 2012 Homeland Security appropriations bill, which included an amendment adding $1 billion to the Disaster Relief Fund of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In a sensible move for taxpayers, the amendment offsets this new disaster funding by cutting spending on the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. This may ring a bell with readers as the funding conduit for one of Washington's adventures in crony capitalism. In 2009, the Department of Energy announced that it would loan more than half a billion dollars through this program to a California-based company, Fisker Automotive, to make luxury electric cars. About a month after the loan package was conditionally approved, CEO Henrik Fisker and Joseph Biden appeared in the Vice President's hometown of Wilmington, Delaware to announce that Fisker would now be making some of its cars at the city's old General Motors factory. At the event, Mr. Biden described many "long talks" he'd had with Mr. Fisker. The Vice President's office later said that Mr. Biden didn't make any direct appeals to Energy before the loan was approved, but Delaware's chief of economic development told the Journal that Mr. Biden was the state's "secret weapon, except there is nothing secret about Joe Biden." All of this is background to say that the GOP has found the federal program that is arguably the most deserving of a cut to free up funds for disaster victims. But Senate Democrats refuse to pass the House bill and Mr. Cantor has earned their ire this week by continuing to press for cuts in corporate welfare. Perhaps unwilling to defend the indefensible, some have taken to claiming that the Republican bill cuts cherished liberal entitlements. In an email seeking donations for an anti-Cantor advertising campaign, the group Democracy for America exalted, "We're hitting Eric Cantor hardexposing his call to hold Hurricane Irene disaster relief hostage to more cuts in vital programs, like Medicare and Social Securitywith in-district ads all next week." In the Senate, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin seems unwilling to accept even the idea that the government might set priorities and choose to fund disaster aid instead of other claims on the federal fisc. "If [Mr. Cantor] believes that we can nip and tuck at the rest of the federal budget and somehow take care of disasters, he's totally out of touch with reality," said Mr. Durbin. One reason the House bill has less funding for Democratic priorities is because, even before the hurricane, Republicans had decided that the President's budget didn't have enough money for the Disaster Relief Fund. So they funded it at $850 million above the President's request. Then as they realized that the damage in places like Joplin, Missouri would put additional strain on the fund, the GOP added the amendment that provided still more disaster assistance and cut funding for Mr. Biden's beloved electric cars. The White House hasn't asked for more funding, though White House budget director Jacob Lew wrote to lawmakers Thursday suggesting it could be well north of $5 billion. But so far Mr. Cantor is being blamed for opposing disaster relief because he has been trying to spend more than the President, and to place that above other spending priorities.