Press Releases

Blountstown, FL – Today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent two letters to members of the President’s Cabinet requesting federal relief for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael.

In a letter to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, Rubio requested the Secretary to provide applicable statutory and regulatory relief for Floridians to use HUD programs, including the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Community Development Block Grant program, the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program, and Emergency Solutions Grant program.

In a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, Rubio urged for the release of guidance and regulations for investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones, which includes many located in communities affected by Hurricane Michael. 

The full text of the letter to Secretary Carson is below.

Dear Secretary Carson:

When Hurricane Michael made landfall in Northwest Florida last week, it destroyed communities and uprooted families from their homes. While the people of Florida are resilient, it is vital that the federal government provide as much relief as possible during this time of recovery.

With this in mind, I respectfully request that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide statutory and regulatory relief for the use of the Community Planning and Development grant programs, including the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the Community Development Block Grant program, the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program, and Emergency Solutions Grant program, similarly to the relief provided during the 2017 hurricanes.

As you know, these programs make funding available to rehabilitate and improve the safety of properties, provide shelter to individuals with AIDS, and facilitate economic development in low-income communities. Providing regulatory and statutory relief could allow these funds to be expanded for new construction, additional support services, food, clothing, housing, or utility expenses, tenant-based rental assistance and fund dispersal for projects that pose immediate and long-term relief for victims of Hurricane Michael.

Families uprooted from this disaster need our help during this difficult time. It is my hope that providing these regulatory and statutory waivers may serve to ease the financial and physical burden this disaster has had on Florida’s communities. 

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

The full text of the letter to Secretary Mnuchin and Director Mulvaney is below.

Dear Secretary Mnuchin and Director Mulvaney:

The unprecedented strength of Hurricane Michael has wrought devastation in the Florida panhandle. Making matters worse, many of the worst-hit areas are also some of the poorest in the state. It is no coincidence that the counties covered by the President’s major disaster declaration contain 28 census tracts that have been designated by Governor Scott as Qualified Opportunity Zones. As opportunity zones, these census tracts have a poverty rate of 20 percent or more or that is less than 80 percent of the statewide median income. The road to recovery will be especially long and hard for these areas.

For this reason, I write to urge the release of guidance and regulations for investments in Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds as authorized by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including relevant taxpayer certification forms. According to recent reports, the proposed regulations have been under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review since September 12. Consistent with your departments’ commitments to a thorough and timely examination of tax regulations, I ask that these be released as soon as possible so that investments in opportunity zones, including many communities affected by Hurricane Michael, can begin in earnest.

If anyone can build back better than they were before, it’s the resilient towns of the Florida panhandle. Expediently finalizing the necessary guidance and regulations for opportunity zones will enable them to tap the resources of private investors from across the country who likewise recognize the great potential in these communities.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Timeline of Rubio Actions Related to Hurricane Michael:

  • Today, Rubio met with Franklin County and Gulf County officials to discuss the ongoing recovery efforts after Hurricane Michael.     
  • On October 15, 2018, Rubio surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Michael and met with local officials in Marianna Florida.
  • On October 15, 2018, Rubio urged Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to assist Florida schools affected by Hurricane Michael, particularly, by quickly approving Project SERV applications, which are critical to recovery efforts
  • On October 15, 2018, Senators Rubio and Nelson, with members of the Florida delegation, sent a letter urging FEMA Administrator Brock Long to approve Florida Governor Rick Scott’s request to initiate the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for the remaining 13 counties impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 12, 2018, Rubio surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle.
  • On October 12, 2018, Rubio and Nelson with Rep. Neal Dunn urged Secretary Wilson and General Goldfein to expedite repair and restoration operations at Tyndall Air Force Base, which was critically impacted during Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 11,2018, Rubio and Nelson urged Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie to authorize increased outreach efforts and benefits assistance for Florida veterans impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 11, 2018, FEMA Administrator Brock Long briefed Rubio on damage caused by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 10, 2018, ahead of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio urged Attorney General Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig to assist communities affected by the storm.  
  • On October 10, 2018, following Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio, Nelson and Florida Representatives urged President Donald Trump to approve Florida’s request for a major disaster declaration. Today, the President approved the State of Florida’s major disaster declaration.
  • On October 9, 2018, Rubio joined Senator Nelson and Florida Representatives in urging President Trump to approve Florida Governor Rick Scott’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Michael.