SC HOUSE SANFORD 5 (copy)

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C. File/Stephen Morton/The New York Times

Nearly a month after their own state faced the fury of Tropical Storm Irma, three South Carolina Republicans voted against a $36.5 billion aid package Thursday to provide financial relief after the recent hurricanes and California wildfires.

U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford, Jeff Duncan and Ralph Norman joined 66 of their fellow Republicans in voting no, but the package ultimately passed the House with a vote of 353-69. It now heads to the Senate.

The aid package includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's main relief fund and loaned $4.9 billion to the governments of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It also cancels the $16 billion in debt owed by the National Flood Insurance Program.

In an email blast to constituents Saturday and in a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday, Sanford outlined his voting rationale. 

"Bad policy makes things worse," Sanford wrote in an 818-word Facebook post. "It set a number of bad precedents that each of us as taxpayers should be very concerned about."

Sanford took particular issue with the treatment of the National Flood Insurance Program.

Lawmakers have been trying to overhaul the program since it has been unable to sustain itself financially without major subsidies from the U.S. Treasury. He claimed the bill "upended the democratic process" in those reform efforts.

Sanford also described the $16 billion relief to the National Flood Insurance Program as setting a "horrible precedent."

"It's never been done before, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this precedent will be used in other instances with equally harmful effect to the money that each of us are liable for with the national debt," he said.

Democrat Joe Cunningham, an attorney and small business owner running against Sanford in the 1st District, criticized Sanford's vote.

"Americans trying to rebuild, many going through the worst crisis of their lifetimes, deserve so much better than this Congressman's political posturing," Cunningham wrote with the hashtag #PeopleOverPolitics.

South Carolina state Rep. Katie Arrington, R-Summerville, who is also running for Sanford's seat, on Saturday said she was concerned about the precedent Sanford's vote could set.

"This will come back to bite us in the future as other Congressmen, citing Sanford’s vote, could deny the Lowcountry the support we might need if and when we are impacted again by a large storm," Arrington said in a statement provided to The Post and Courier. 

U.S. Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, Joe Wilson, R-Springdale, and Tom Rice,R-Myrtle Beach, voted in favor of the measure.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, the third most senior House Democrat and highest-ranking black lawmaker in Congress, did not vote.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.