Senator Marco Rubio expresses his support for the $15 billion relief package, even though he opposed the debt ceiling-raising provision in the bill.
Rubio was in Miami tending to personal matters ahead of Hurricane Irma, and was obviously not able to vote on the bill. Senator Bill Nelson (D), Rubio’s fellow Floridian, voted in favor of the package.
“Today, I am in West Miami, which is now under a watch for Hurricane Irma and currently projected to take a direct hit from this Category 5 storm…Tropical Storm conditions are expected in South Florida less than 48 hours after the time of today’s vote, and I am using this crucial time to safely secure my home, my mother’s home and otherwise prepare my family to face the brunt and the aftermath of a potentially catastrophic storm. Given these circumstances and the fact that my vote would not have determined the outcome of the measures before the Senate, I felt the prudent course of action was to remain in South Florida, take appropriate actions to protect my family and help coordinate efforts between federal, state and local officials.
“As I have always done in the past, I support providing additional emergency resources for disaster aid and recovery. Disaster relief is an appropriate function of the federal government. And unlike some previous disaster relief legislation, these funds are to be spent immediately, and are properly targeted to assist the areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey and potentially Hurricane Irma.
“The rest of this package, however, contains items that under normal circumstances, and considered separately, I have opposed.
“I strongly disagree with the decision made by the administration to agree to pair funding for FEMA and emergency disaster relief to short-term extensions to the continuing resolution, the debt ceiling and the National Flood Insurance Program unaccompanied by significant reforms.
“During my service in the Senate, my support for increasing the debt limit has consistently in the past, and will again in the future, be conditioned on meaningful spending reforms that address our long-term debt.
“Absent extenuating circumstances such as the outbreak of the Zika virus last year, I have consistently opposed passage of short term continuing resolutions, because they are an incredibly inefficient way of spending taxpayer dollars and fails to provide the certainty required for effective planning.
“Additionally, I am frustrated Congress has once again temporarily reauthorized the outdated National Flood Insurance Program without enacting a long-term solution that provides much-needed improvements for the people of Florida and places this vital program on a sustainable path for the future.
“It is shameful these necessary and important measures are not being considered separately. Linking them to funds needed to assist our fellow Americans recovering from a devastating natural disaster is an unfortunate effort to avoid subjecting these measures to the scrutiny and debate they merit.
“Today, I was informed by Administrator Long that FEMA has less than two days of emergency funds remaining. Given that Texas continues to recover from the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Harvey and that the state of Florida is facing the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded, I have no choice but to support this measure. Nevertheless, I consider the manner in which this measure was structured, linking emergency disaster relief for victims in need of immediate assistance with other controversial measures we still have time to debate through regular order, to be among the most politically cynical efforts I have ever witnessed.”