Thursday, February 2

Gaetz asks for Florida hurricane aid after voting against CR with FEMA funding

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) says he wants Congress to approve additional funds to help his state recover from Hurricane Ian after voting against a government funding measure last week that freed up $18.8 billion in federal disaster aid.

Gaetz joined 15 other Florida lawmakers in voting against the continuing resolution, which allows the government to remain funded at the current spending levels through mid-December and includes a new round of funding for Ukraine, as well as for disaster aid. President Biden signed the bill into law hours before a government shutdown deadline.

The spending measure freed up federal dollars for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, which is used to support recovery from major disasters and emergencies that overwhelm state resources.

Gaetz on his podcast on Friday criticized Democrats for pushing the stopgap measure through the House without going through the committee process, also saying he wanted to strengthen work requirements for entitlement programs.

“They don’t want you to be able to amend what’s part of their deal that enriches them at the expense of the people in this country, and we have to do better,” Gaetz said. “We as Republicans have to be willing to grind this corrupt place to a halt if necessary to deliver wins for our people.”

Gaetz’s spokesman deferred to the lawmaker’s comments on the podcast.

The Florida Republican then tweeted on Sunday, “Dear Congress: On behalf of my fellow Florida Man in grave need of assistance…. Just send us like half of what you sent Ukraine. Signed, Your Fellow Americans.”

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Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Fort Myers on Wednesday afternoon. 

At least 68 people have died from the storm as of Monday morning, and hundreds of thousands remain without power as officials assess the widespread wreckage.

Both of Florida’s Republican senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, have also indicated support for additional federal aid. Scott voted against the continuing resolution, while Rubio did not vote.

Gaetz and some other Florida lawmakers have taken aim at U.S. funding for the Ukrainian military as the country fights against Russia’s invasion. The continuing resolution included an additional roughly $12 billion in financial and security assistance for the country.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), who also voted against the continuing resolution, similarly criticized the Ukraine provision, but unlike Gaetz, Bilirakis said now isn’t the time to direct more relief funding from the storm until more assessment is completed.

“Right now, we haven’t assessed the situation, and we know that $9 billion was available, so the responsible thing to do is to wait until the funds are depleted,” Bilirakis said during an appearance on Fox News.

“Now we’re going to address the issue and get more funding to the State of Florida, but I wanted to be fiscally responsible, and I also will tell you that there was some bad things in that continuing resolution,” he continued, referring to the Ukraine funding.


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