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Rubio, Colleagues Decry Lack of Action on Critical Disaster Aid for Recovering Communities

Apr 11, 2019 | Comunicados de Prensa

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and David Perdue (R-GA) joined their Senate colleagues in expressing disappointment in Congress’ failure to deliver critical disaster aid to their states to assist in recovery efforts from natural disasters in 2018 and 2019. Yesterday, April 10th, was exactly six months to the day that Florida and Georgia took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael.
Last week, Senate Democrats blocked the comprehensive disaster aid package from moving forward. The package would provide funding for communities struggling to recover from recent natural disasters, including Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Michael and 2019 disasters in the Midwest. It also would provide $600 million that Puerto Rico badly needs for SNAP. Instead, Senate Democrats chose to support an outdated, partisan proposal that has no chance of becoming law and once again played politics with much-needed aid at the expense of local communities.
Read Rubio’s op-ed published today titled, “Playing politics with disaster funding, Democrat obstruction hits new low.” Earlier today, Rubio highlighted the need to pass disaster aid legislation to provide much needed relief for communities in Northwest Florida. A broadcast quality version of his statement can be found HERE.
“Playing politics with disaster funding may score Senate Democrats points with their far-left base for ‘resisting’ the president, but it comes at the expense of real people and communities in Florida,” Rubio said. “It’s been six months since Hurricane Michael struck Florida’s Panhandle, and we’re up against a very real deadline to deliver much-needed resources. Inaction and obstruction are inexcusable, and I’m ready to work with any of my Democratic colleagues who are willing to set politics aside to do their jobs.”
“It’s frustrating that it has taken so long to secure this critical disaster relief for communities as they try to rebuild,” Scott said. “Families in the Florida panhandle and in Puerto Rico are suffering, and Congress needs to act. I’m working with Republicans and Democrats to get this done. We can’t wait any longer.”
“This lack of funding has put Georgia farmers at the breaking point. It is a shame that politics has again gotten in the way of aid for the people of our states who are in desperate need and for farmers who put food on our tables,” Isakson said. “I am extremely disappointed that Congress will be leaving for a two-week state work period without a resolution and much-needed funding on the way for our states, which have already been pressed to cover disaster recovery expenses beyond what they can afford. We’ve asked Democrats to help the residents of our states. This is a disaster bill, and it’s not about politics, it’s about getting all Americans the help they need. I’m eager to work to get it done so farmers can get loans and get back to work.”
“Democrats ought to be ashamed of themselves for holding hostage farmers in the Southeast, fire victims in California, earthquake victims in Alaska, and flood victims in the upper Midwest,” Perdue said. “This is yet another example of Democrat obstructionism. Last weekend, Senate Republican appropriators made another fair offer, but Democrats outright rejected it. President Trump and Senate Republicans have been more than reasonable in dealing with Democrats’ requests throughout this process. Previous disaster relief packages were not held up like this. Farmers in Georgia and across the country are missing planting season right now because Democrats have been unwilling to negotiate. Time is of the essence, and we must get this disaster relief done immediately, so those who have lost everything can rest assured that help is on the way.”
Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Thom Tillis (R-NC) also issued statements.
If Congress fails to get a comprehensive disaster aid package to the president’s desk, the consequences for Florida are severe. Below are a few of the impacted areas:

  • Tyndall AFB: Rebuilding efforts will stop on May 1 if new funds are not approved.
  • U.S. Air Force: Without supplemental funding now, the Air Force must cut critical facility and readiness requirements, driving Air Force wide operational risks and negatively impacting the recovery of Tyndall and Offutt.
  • Veterans facilities: VA medical facilities damaged by Hurricane Michael will not be repaired.
  • U.S. Coast Guard facilities: Disaster relief for the Coast Guard to repair facilities that suffered catastrophic damage by Hurricane Michael will continue to be delayed.  While the Coast Guard remains operational, this will extend the timeline for infrastructure improvements to be made at facilities, including for the Coast Guard’s $46.7 million in direct repair costs for the rebuilding of the majority of Coast Guard Station Panama City.
  • Schools: Federal funds will assist schools, districts, and institutions of higher education with mitigating the damage caused by the disaster. These funds will also provide support for school districts and colleges and universities that have received students displaced by the hurricane.