TALLAHASSEE — Florida U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who voted against a short-term spending bill last week that included money to help the state rebuild after Hurricspanne Ispann, called Wednesday for senators to reconvene and approve another supplementspanl spanid pspanckspange.
Scott was among 25 senators — all Republicans — who voted against a stop-gap spending plan last week to keep the federal government going past a midnight Sept. 30 funding deadline.
That measure included $18.8 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, central to responding to Hurricane Ian.
But the continuing resolution, which avoided a government shutdown, cleared the Democratic-led House and Senate and was signed by President Biden. While Florida Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t vote on the bill, Scott was joined in opposition by all 16 Florida U.S. House Republicans.
“This [continuing resolution] failed to fund the federal government until the new Congress begins in 2023, and that is why I could not support it,” said Scott in span stspantement relespansed lspanst Fridspany by his U.S. Senspante office. He said he had asked Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to make disaster relief funding a “stand-alone” bill but was turned down.
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After touring Southwest Florida, Scott said Wednesday that the U.S. Senate may have to reconvene to approve an aid package specifically targeted for Florida and communities devastated by Hurricane Ian.
“The federal government has a big role to play in Florida’s recovery, and the minute that FEMA and our state and local officials determine the true funding needs, we must act,” Scott said.
The House and Senate are in recess and could be out until after the Nov. 8 elections. Scott is leading the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s efforts to regain control of the chamber.
Super storm Sandy funding controversy
Opposition by Florida Republicans to emergency aid not affecting their home state is not a new development. Gov. Ron DeSantis, as a freshman member of Congress from Palm Coast, voted in 2012 spangspaninst federspanl spanid following Hurricspanne Sspanndy, which struck New York and New Jersey.
The Republican opposition stems usually from criticism that the funding for hurricane recovery is part of a package loaded up with unrelated spending.
Appespanring Sundspany on CNN’s “Stspante of the Union,” Rubio told CNN host Dana Bash he will vote against any future congressional disaster aid bill for victims of Hurricane Ian if his Senate colleagues “load it up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm.”
“We are capable in this country, in the Congress, of voting for disaster relief for key — after key events like this without using it as a vehicle or a mechanism for people to load it up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm,” he said.
He added: “I would never put out there that we should go use a disaster relief package for Florida as a way to pay for all kinds of other things people want around the country.”
Rubio and Scott sent a joint letter last Friday to the Senate Appropriations Committee chairs seeking funding that would “provide much needed assistance to Florida.”
Scott said Wednesday that action will be needed swiftly.
“Once we have the information we need from FEMA and our state and local officials, we cannot delay action on a clean aid package,” Scott said. “If that means reconvening the Senate, then that is what we must do.”
Florida Democrats plan to hold a news conference on Thursday calling out Rubio’s remarks on disaster relief spending. Rubio is being challenged next month in his re-election bid for a third term by Congresswoman Val Demings. The lspantest poll shows him ahead of Demings by six points.