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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Faulkner Focus
On the federal response to Hurricane Idalia:
“We would hope hurricane recovery and things of this nature continue to be one of the few things that’s left out there that’s nonpartisan and non-political. I’m encouraged that the president has continued that tradition, at least in his response [to Hurricane Idalia].
“We have a more fundamental problem, and that is the disaster relief fund inside of FEMA is woefully low. We knew that back in June. Since June, I’ve been trying to get money into it, knowing we were going into hurricane season, not knowing we were going to have fires in Maui and so forth. They don’t have enough money to do any of this.
“Moving forward, especially as we get into recovery, when you add in this storm, and you add in the fires in Maui – and by the way, there’s a bunch of previous storms where the reimbursements to local governments are still in the pipeline – what they’ve said is two things.
“The first is they’re going to use the limited money they have left to prioritize these new storms ahead of the reimbursements from the old storms. That’s a real problem for local governments. But the more nefarious one, and one I hope they back off on, is they’ve been saying, we’ll do disaster relief, but we’re going to pair it up with Ukraine funding.
“No matter how anybody feels about Ukraine funding, those two things should never be one for the other. When it comes to taking care of Americans that have been harmed, that should be the priority. I hope the White House backs off of that position.”
On the link between disaster relief funding and funding for Ukraine:
“I don’t think the two issues should ever be linked. Ukraine is a foreign policy decision. We need to prioritize [that to what level it is] in our national interest and fund it accordingly. But when it comes to this, the number one obligation of the American government is the safety and security of Americans, and helping them recover from events such as this.
“By the way, it’s not just Florida. This storm, as you can see, and as you all have been broadcasting, is headed to Georgia and the Carolinas…. And we’re just into August. There’s still a few months ahead here of hurricane season, and then unforeseen events like what happened out in Maui….
“We were sounding the alarm on this link with Ukraine two weeks ago. We were talking about this. This is not all of a sudden. We knew this was happening. These guys have been playing this game for a while. Senator Scott will try a unanimous consent agreement next week. I’ll try to get a vote on the package we’ve all put together. Some Democrat is probably going to stand up and say, I object unless you include the Ukraine funding.
“I would keep an eye on that [funding link], because that, to me, was unacceptable. It has never happened before. It shouldn’t happen, when it comes to this. I hope it doesn’t happen. But that’s what they’re signaling right now.”
On the rationale for linking disaster relief funding to funding for Ukraine:
“You see people out there, like the Biden Administration, who desperately want Ukraine funding, believe they’re not going to be able to get it through the House, and so say, the only way we’re going to be able to get this is we have to make it as part of a deal with something everybody wants, or that the other side really, really wants, which is disaster recovery funding. They would link the two in that way.
“That’s what they were signaling last week. Now, maybe after the storm, maybe after Maui, maybe after you see these images – and we haven’t seen it all yet, it’s still working its way through Florida and then these other states – maybe they’ll back off. But the level of cynicism that I’ve seen in the past leads me to believe that it only takes one senator to object, and they’ll find someone to do it, unfortunately.
“I hope I’m wrong, and I hope that’s not the case, because I think it would be hurtful to the cause of Ukraine, because you’re going to turn a lot of people against it.”