Cantor: Funds for tornado victims will be offset

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, on the Sunday, May 29, 2011 edition of "Face the Nation."
CBS/Chris Usher

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Sunday said that the government would "find the money" for emergency assistance to disaster-struck regions like Joplin, Mo., but that any aid would be offset by cuts to the federal budget.

Joplin is the latest American city to face devastation at the hands of a powerful tornado in what has been the deadliest tornado season on record since 1950. As of Sunday, the Joplin death toll was at 139, but is expected to go higher as the search continues for more than 100 people still missing.

In an appearance on "Face the Nation," Cantor (R-Va.) emphasized that, in dealing with the devastation, "there is an appropriate federal role" - but that, like any family, the government doesn't have unlimited resources.

"Congress will find the money," Cantor told CBS News senior correspondent Harry Smith. "And it will be offset."

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"I know that America is just stunned by the scope of devastation and loss and the horrific tragedy that the people of Joplin and other places across the country really are experiencing this tornado season," Cantor said.

But, he added, comparing the federal government to a family on a tight budget, the government would have to make cuts somewhere else to compensate for the expenditures.

"When a family is struck with tragedy - like the family of Joplin ... let's say if they had $10,000 set aside to do something else with, to buy a new car ... and then they were struck with a sick member of the family or something, and needed to take that money to apply it to that, that's what they would do, because families don't have unlimited money.

"Neither does the federal government" have endless resources, he continued.

Earlier on "Face the Nation," Missouri governor Jay Nixon emphasized the depth of the destruction in Joplin - and noted that rebuilding would not be easy.

"It has been hard to put into context how deep this destruction is," Nixon told Smith. "I think today's memorial service - when people have a moment to pause for an hour and pray together and think about this - they'll begin to see the pictures of the hundreds of friends who are gone, the schools that are gone, the fact that it's going to be a long, long pullback for the people of Joplin.

"We have to have a commitment to rebuild," he added. "It will take a long time. I mean, there's going to be a tremendous amount of potential frustration, a tremendous amount of pain and anguish through this process."

Nixon noted that the state government had already put aside $25 million in funds to begin that process - and said that the state would "make our case" to the Obama administration "to make sure we get the dollars that other regions have gotten."

"I'm confident we'll find the resources to get this done," he said. "Whatever method it takes. I mean, we've had an unbelievable outpouring of private donations already and I have a great deal of experience with our federal partners. I fully expect that we will have the resources to rebuild here."

Still, he said, the coming days would not be easy.

"I feel resolve here," said Nixon. "But there's going to be some sad moments here over the next few days."