Florida’s Senator Rick Scott Demands More Disaster Aid as Idalia Approaches

(Bloomberg) -- Florida Senator Rick Scott says he will seek a vote on replenishing the depleted federal disaster relief fund next week as his state’s Gulf Coast is on track to get pummeled by Hurricane Idalia.

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“I’m going to fight like hell to get it done,” Scott, a Republican, said on Bloomberg Television’s “Balance of Power” on Tuesday evening. “Congress has to do its part.”

The disaster fund has just $3.4 billion available, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell said earlier Tuesday at a press conference. That has to cover responses to the Maui fire disaster as well as hurricanes and other emergencies until Congress acts to provide more money.

Scott’s push for immediate funding — as well as other measures including tax relief for people affected by previous hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico — is complicated by a White House desire for a much larger package that would include financing for Ukraine and to keep the government open past Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Some House Republicans are demanding budget cuts and other concessions in any stopgap spending bill that would avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

Read More: Hurricane Idalia Gets Stronger as It Bears Down on Florida

In the past, hurricanes have helped advance broader measures, given the bipartisan urgency to act. Hurricane funding, however, has occasionally faced opposition from Republicans unhappy with deficit spending.

Scott urged Floridians in Idalia’s path to leave, given predictions of massive storm surges, rain and high winds. “This is going to be devastating,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to die. We lost 151 people with Ian because people didn’t evacuate.” He was referring to Hurricane Ian, which struck Florida, the Carolinas and Cuba nearly a year ago.

He added that it’s possible his efforts could be bolstered by lawmakers in other states like Hawaii and California also trying to get disaster aid passed.

“Come together, don’t play politics and get this done,” Scott said.

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