Florida asks Congress for $27 billion in initial hurricane disaster aid

Florida asks Congress for $27 billion in initial hurricane disaster aid 

Posted: 3:00 am Saturday, October 7th, 2017

By Jamie Dupree

A day after elected officials from Texas asked Congress for almost $19 billion in direct aid to help with recovery from Hurricane Harvey, lawmakers from the state of Florida dropped off their own request for $27 billion in relief related to damage from Hurricane Irma, joining Texas in making clear that’s just a ‘down payment.’

In a letter to key lawmakers in Congress, Florida’s Congressional delegation made clear that $27 billion for the Sunshine State “will likely cover only part of the state’s overall recovery costs and that additional funding will likely be needed once a more thorough damage assessment is complete.”

“Almost a month later, Floridians are still recovering, and much work remains to be done,” the letter stated.

The request from Florida is like that from Texas – an effort to get Congress to add more money to a $29 billion disaster aid supplemental spending plan submitted to lawmakers earlier this week by the White House.

The Florida request includes:

+ $10 billion to deal with water projects impacted by Hurricane Irma.

+ $7 billion for Community Development Block Grants to help repair damage from the storm.

+ $5 billion in agricultural aid, both for citrus growers and livestock interests.

The U.S. House is scheduled to vote next week on that extra funding from the Trump Administration, but it isn’t clear how much more lawmakers might add, as the requests from Texas and Florida are an extra $46 billion above this White House request – and both states have made clear they need much more than that figure.

A Senate vote on a new round of hurricane disaster relief is not expected until later in the month. The Senate is not in session for legislative work next week. Senators return to Washington on October 16.

Unlike in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which struck New Jersey in October of 2012, Republicans in Congress have made no effort to push for offsetting budget cuts to pay for disaster aid in the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

That means all of the money approved for hurricane disaster relief will simply be added to the federal deficit.

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