Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., is demanding the Senate immediately take up his disaster relief legislation when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill next week, as Hurricane Idalia makes landfall in his state with high winds and surging floodwaters.
Idalia touched down in Florida Wednesday morning as a Category 3 hurricane. The National Weather Service called it an “unprecedented event.”
Scott announced he would be introducing his Federal Disaster Responsibility Act, which combines several aid bills, when the Senate returns next week. He said it is aimed at making sure “that the immediate needs for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund are fully funded and Florida’s military bases, families and growers impacted by disasters have the federal support they need and deserve.”
“The moment the Senate reconvenes next week, I will be introducing this bill and demanding an immediate vote. Floridians are doing their part and getting ready, and I will not allow Washington to continue playing games with disaster aid and the lives of those needing our help,” Scott said.
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Florida Sen. Rick Scott is calling on the Senate to take up his disaster relief bill as soon as they return next week.
Local officials have warned that the rain and strong winds brought by the hurricane have triggered catastrophic storm surges and power outages in parts of Florida that were hard-hit. The Tallahassee National Weather Service office has warned that some areas of destruction could be “uninhabitable” for weeks or months.
The Senate will return on Tuesday after lawmakers spent several weeks in their home states for the August recess.
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Zeke Pierce rides his paddle board down the middle of a flooded Bayshore Blvd. in Tampa, Florida, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. Hurricane Idalia steamed toward Florida’s Big Bend region Wednesday morning, threatening deadly storm surges and destructive winds in an area not accustomed to such pummeling. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)
Scott’s disaster relief bill will join a $40 billion supplemental funding request from the Biden administration which also includes money aimed at replenishing the U.S.’s emergency aid funds, in addition to requested funds for Ukraine and border security.
However, in his statement demanding a vote on his bill next week, Scott criticized Biden officials for pairing domestic aid with funding for Kyiv’s defense.
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“Unfortunately, while I’ve spent the months leading up to this storm fighting to make sure the federal government shows up, President Biden and politicians in Washington have been playing games with FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund and insisting that this critical domestic aid be tied to foreign aid for Ukraine,” Scott said. “We’ve had enough with Washington playing politics and demand that Congress does what’s right for American families, starting with ensuring our federal government has all the resources it needs to show up after disasters, now and in the future.”
The state’s senior senator, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has also called to untangle U.S. disaster relief dollars from Biden’s Ukraine request.
A person rides a kayak through the flooded streets caused by Hurricane Idalia passing offshore on Aug. 30, 2023 in Tarpon Springs, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Fox News Digital reached out to the White House for comment.
President Biden has approved Florida’s emergency declaration and told reporters on Tuesday that he is in “constant contact” with Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Scott’s bill aims to replenish FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund by at least $12.5 billion with “necessary funding” to cover damage to Florida military installations, give the Department of Agriculture power to issue block grants for producers who were hurt by natural disasters in 2022, as well as push for enhanced disaster relief for Florida and Puerto Rico residents impacted by Hurricanes Ian, Nicole and Florence.