These Florida Republicans demanded funding for Hurricane Ian after opposing disaster relief
A handful of Florida lawmakers have called for emergency funding in the wake of Hurricane Ian, but last month opposed legislation providing billions of dollars in disaster relief.
Twelve Florida House legislators drafted a letter to Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas), chair and senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, asking Tuesday for their support in prioritizing an emergency supplementary program for the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian, which tore through the Sunshine State last week.
But in late September, the Group of 12 voted against a stopgap that included millions of dollars in disaster relief.
Florida GOP representatives Greg Steube, Carlos Gimenez, María Elvira Salazar, Bill Posey, Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Brian Mast, Michael Waltz, Neal Dunn and Daniel Webster all signed the letter.
A Donalds spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that “the congressman stands by his vote and commends his fellow GOP House members of the Florida delegation for taking the same action,” calling the measure a “check in solid white for Biden and congressional Democrats. ”
“The Continuing Resolution (CR), where Pelosi shrewdly placed disaster relief aid, was full of reckless spending that usually had nothing to do with funding the congressman’s district and other areas. disaster victims in need,” the spokesperson added.
The continuing resolution, which Congress passed and President Biden signed into law, included $2 billion in disaster relief and $18.8 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund. (FEMA) for its response to current and future disasters.
FEMA’s provision is language that allows the agency’s Disaster Relief Fund to use the full year of funds allocated in advance. According to a fact sheet of the Appropriations Committee, these funds could be used to respond to declared disasters, including Hurricane Ian.
The interim bill, however, did not include direct funding for Hurricane Ian.
Ten Republican House members supported the continuing resolution, none of whom represent Florida districts.
Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida as a Category 4 storm last week, leaving death and destruction in its path. More than 100 deaths have been reported in the state.
“We call on the House Committee on Appropriations to work urgently with the Florida delegation to draft an emergency supplemental appropriations package as we accumulate damage assessments,” the group wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “We ask that you focus exclusively on recent hurricane disasters in this package, and free yourself from any language not directly related to hurricane relief and recovery efforts.”
The Hill reached out to all 12 lawmakers to find out why they opposed the continuing resolution despite it containing disaster relief.
These 12 Floridians aren’t the only ones asking for emergency funding for their state despite the pending vote against the resolution.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) last weekend asked for help from Congress after the hurricane.
“Dear Congress: On behalf of my fellow Florida Man who is in dire need of assistance…. Just send us half of what you sent to Ukraine. Signed, your fellow Americans,” wrote Gaetz, who voted against the continuing resolution, on Twitter.
Gaetz commented on the resolution continued on his podcast last week, outlining the timing of the measure – it lasts until mid-December – and other provisions, including financial aid to Ukraine.
“Everyone expects the Democrats to lose the House in November. And so after losing the House, Nancy Pelosi still wants the ability to dictate the budget terms in a potential Republican check, and some Republicans were so stupid that they accepted that,” Gaetz said on his podcast.
Across the Capitol, Florida Sen. Rick Scott (right), who previously served as Governor of the Sunshine State, is also pushing for a Hurricane Ian relief package. He went so far as to ask the Senate to reconvene to retake the measure.
The senators are not expected to return to Washington until next month. Scott was among 25 Republicans who opposed pursuing the resolution in the upper house.
“Once we have the information we need from FEMA and our state and local authorities, we cannot delay action on a clean aid program. If that means reconvening the Senate, then that’s what we need to do,” Scott wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Last week, he and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote a letter to the senses. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) — top lawmakers on the appropriations committee — asking for help crafting a disaster supplement “to provide much-needed aid to Florida.”
“A strong and timely federal response, including through additional programs and funding, will be needed to ensure that sufficient resources are provided to rebuild critical infrastructure and public service capacity, and to help our fellow Floridians rebuild their lives,” the duo wrote in the letter, dated September 30. “These provisions must be prioritized and reviewed as soon as possible.”
Rubio was not present during the vote on the continuing resolution last month. According to the Washington Post, he was in Florida examining the damage caused by the hurricane.
Contacted for comment, Scott’s office referred The Hill to a statement the senator released last week in response to a report by The Washington Post who underlined his opposition to the continuing resolution.
Scott called the report “misleading” and argued that the interim bill did not include any funding for Hurricane Ian. He also noted his support for the disaster relief provision.
“Prior to Ian’s development, I made it clear that I fully supported the proposed disaster funding for other states and urged Senator Schumer to put it to a standalone vote. He refused and delayed this relief so he could use it as a political weapon to stick to a CR that will eventually fuel billions for the Democrats’ radical agenda just before they lose power” , wrote Scott in a statement.
“This RC failed to fund the federal government until the new Congress begins in 2023, and that’s why I couldn’t support it,” he added.
But despite those defenses, some Democrats pounce on Republicans in Florida who are asking for emergency aid despite their opposition to the resolution’s continuation last month.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida) said Republicans in her state had failed to “put the interests of those who suffer tragedy above their political fortunes.”
“Today the Republicans in the United States House of Florida let down all the families still reeling from our state who will soon need the full strength and resources of the federal government to rebuild and recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Ian,” she wrote in a statement. statement Last week.
Rep. Val Demings (R-Fla.), who is embroiled in a contentious Senate race against Rubio, knocked down her opponent for the missed vote.
“In the United States Senate, I will never put partisan politics above providing relief to Floridians,” she wrote on Twitter.
The Florida senator hit out at his opponent on Friday for not voting for Hurricane Irma and Maria relief – as reported The Miami Herald — accusing him of hypocrisy.
“The hypocrisy here runs deep, doesn’t it? She voted against bills that provided hurricane relief in the past, including relief for Puerto Rico and Florida, because she didn’t like other elements of the bill either,” Rubio said. during an interview on the “Guy Benson Show.”
Updated at 11:04 a.m.