Congressman Daniel Webster (R-FL) joined other Florida Republican representatives in requesting House and Senate leaders to support a “clean appropriations bill” regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) following Hurricane Idalia and the wildfires in Maui.
In a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Rep. Webster and his colleagues are attempting to create bipartisan momentum surrounding legislation that supports the DRF that is going to “exhausted soon.”
“FEMA expects the Disaster Relief Fund to be exhausted soon, causing the agency to prioritize existing funding in the interim for response efforts,” wrote the lawmakers. “However, FEMA’s current resources will not be sufficient for recovery efforts related to Hurricane Idalia, the Hawaii Wildfires, and other natural disasters in 2023. In addition to replenishing the Disaster Relief Fund, funding is needed to assist agricultural producers in recovering from these natural disasters.”
They would go on to mention that the appropriations bill should not be tied to the Ukraine war effort.
“Disaster relief must be considered separately from other supplemental funding requests, including funding for Ukraine, to promptly deliver the necessary resources for affected individuals and communities. Unlike other supplemental disaster requests from the Administration, disaster relief is urgent. Disaster relief funding should not be delayed due to being coupled [sic] extraneous matters that require separate debate and consideration,” concluded the U.S. Representatives from Florida.
The U.S. Congress members that signed the bill included Representatives Neal Dunn (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Laurel Lee (R-FL), Brain Mast (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Mike Waltz (R-FL), Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Cory Mills (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Maria Salazar (R-FL), and Aaron Bean (R-FL).
Similarly, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) accused the Biden administration of playing politics as well, calling for the separation of FEMA funding and Ukraine funding.
As Hurricane Idalia was fast approaching the Gulf Coast of Florida, CNN’s Jake Tapper questioned the Biden administration’s decision to couple emergency funding for the recent natural disasters with funding for the Ukraine war effort.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told Tapper that “I don’t want to get into hypotheticals,” and that “The President put forward what he thinks is incredibly important that we need.”
Sen. Scott responded, saying that the effects felt by Hurricane Idalia are not “hypothetical.”
Floridians are facing once-in-a-lifetime devastation & destruction from #Idalia. This isn’t a “hypothetical.” It’s Florida families’ livelihoods, and my Federal Disaster Responsibility Act makes sure the federal government shows up.
Stop playing politics. Floridians can’t wait. pic.twitter.com/4xz4hqbh5V
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) August 30, 2023
“Floridians are facing a once-in-a-lifetime devastation & destruction from Idalia. This isn’t a ‘hypothetical.’ It’s Florida families’ livelihoods, and my Federal Disaster Responsibility Act makes sure the federal government shows up. Stop playing politics. Floridians can’t wait,” stated Sen. Scott.
Congress has reconvened and will most likely address these problems as they look to avoid another government shutdown.