Since when has snow removal been a federal responsibility? 

The first huge snowfall of February 2010 ruined my anniversary plans. The second huge snowfall, one week later, sent us wading through doubled, thigh-high snow drifts to get to the hospital for the birth of my daughter. So the magnitude of that particular weather event is not lost on me. 

But it is completely absurd that the federal government has become the nation's snow-removal service. Here is a press release I just received from the federal Department of Homeland Security:


Funding reimburses agency for snow removal in Fairfax County

PHILADELPHIA - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today the approval of an additional $3,033,681 in federal funds to the commonwealth of Virginia for severe storm cleanup in February 2010.

This funding is related to the disaster declaration issued on February 16, 2010 (DR-1874).  It was awarded to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for reimbursement of expenses related to the removal of health and safety hazards in Fairfax County, including snow removal from county-maintained roads.

The grant, plus administrative costs, represents a 75-percent federal share of project costs, which total $4,044,908.

The remaining 25 percent will be paid with non-federal funds determined by the commonwealth.

Why in the world should Virginia or Fairfax County be reimbursed for removing its own snow? I can understand getting federal agencies (the Coast Guard, perhaps) involved if it's immediately necessary to save the lives of stranded motorists, but we're not talking about that here. We're talking about reimbursing a state government for something that happened over a year ago.

What ever happened to the idea of state and local governments being responsible for setting aside money to pay for basic state and local services? I can hardly blame any state for taking free money, but why are we offering it? And if you're following Virginia's Obamacare lawsuit, it received standing in court partly because Virginia is a sovereign state that passed its own law regarding health insurance mandates. What kind of claim do our states have to sovereignty if federal agencies that pick up three quarters of the tab every time there's a bit of bad weather?

This is precisely the kind of funding Congress should eliminate, and precisely the kind of responsibility it should return to the states.

About The Author

David Freddoso

David Freddoso came to the Washington Examiner in June 2009, after serving for nearly two years as a Capitol Hill-based staff reporter for National Review Online. Before writing his New York Times bestselling book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he spent three years assisting Robert Novak, the legendary Washington... more
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