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Monday, Feb 19, 2018
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Rubio, DeSantis help pass budget deal

WASHINGTON – Florida lawmakers, including gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, helped pass the two-year budget deal early Friday.

Liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans opposed the deal. Democratic no votes included Val Demings, Lois Frankel, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Federica Wilson.

Republican no votes came from Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Daniel Webster and Ted Yoho.

DeSantis, a founding member of the conservative Freedom Caucus that officially opposed the idea, issued a statement that highlighted military spending and disaster relief for Florida and Puerto Rico.

"The budget agreement provides our military with long-overdue resources and certainty," DeSantis said. "Years of operating under arbitrary spending limitations and a seemingly endless flurry of continuing resolutions have taken their toll on readiness, which hurts our troops and harms our national security.  The Trump-Mattis military restoration authorized by this agreement will be the most significant fortification of the military since the Reagan defense buildup that helped end the Cold War. The agreement also provides relief for hurricane-affected communities in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.  From mitigating crop losses in Florida to restoring power in Puerto Rico, these are priorities that need immediate attention.

"Military funding and disaster relief have previously passed the House of Representatives but have languished in the Senate.  Indeed, the Senate has proven institutionally incapable of passing annual appropriation bills for the military.  Apparently, the only way the Senate will meet key national needs is to demand a ransom in the form of more profligate spending in other areas.  This provides further proof that structural reforms, such as a balanced budget amendment, are needed to discipline Congress and protect taxpayers.  While meeting the urgent needs of our military and disaster-affected communities outweighs the agreement's fiscal shortcomings in this instance, it is unfortunate that such fiscal shortcomings  have become a staple of these bipartisan deals."

Sen. Marco Rubio, who first ran in 2010 as a fiscal conservative, also voted for the package:

"Florida and Puerto Rico have been in dire need of disaster relief funding, and I am proud that our work on the Senate Appropriations Committee has resulted in virtually all of our funding needs being met. Among them is relief for Florida's citrus growers, school repairs and funding to accommodate an increase in enrolled students, the expedited completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation, vital beach renourishment, and repair of damaged Everglades infrastructure. For Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, this deal includes up to two years of funding for Medicaid and additional money for infrastructure, hospitals, schools, community health centers and grid work repair.

"However, it is upsetting that these important and necessary measures were not considered separately. Throughout my time in the Senate, my support for increasing the debt limit has been consistently conditioned on meaningful spending reforms that address our long-term debt. This budget deal does not do that. We must begin to seriously address the long-term drivers of our debt and get our fiscal house back in order. We cannot do that if we continue to govern through short term continuing resolutions that inefficiently spend taxpayer dollars and fail to provide the certainty required for effective planning. While fiscal responsibility remains a top priority for me, I voted for this bill because we must make good on our promise to deliver long-overdue disaster relief to the people of Florida and Puerto Rico, and it is imperative that we fully fund and rebuild our military."

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

"Because Democrats stood united in support of vital investments in our people, this bill is a step in the right direction toward providing adequate resources for our nation's vast domestic and defense needs. Because the Florida delegation stood united in support of essential disaster recovery funding for our constituents, this bill includes far more aid than the Administration's initial request. But unfortunately, this bill also adds an additional $500 billion to the deficit, after Republicans increased the deficit by $1.5 trillion in their unconscionable tax reform bill that gave billions in tax breaks to the extremely wealthy and giant corporations. Adding insult to injury, it unnecessarily expands means testing for Medicare beneficiaries. Finally, because House Republican leaders cruelly stand united with President Trump, refusing to even allow a vote on bipartisan legislation to protect DREAMers—legislation supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans to ensure that courageous young people can continue to contribute to our nation—this bill is one that I regret that I cannot support. That we find ourselves voting on such a funding bill, amid a second Republican-controlled government shutdown and as nearly all of America sleeps, sadly reveals just how inadequate and incomplete this legislative response is to our nation's true needs."

 Rep. Ted Deutch:

"Tonight, I voted for a compromise budget deal because it will allow us to keep the government running, finally beyond just weeks. This bill helps the millions of Americans in Florida and Puerto Rico, Texas, California and the Virgin Islands whose lives were turned upside down by natural disasters. It provides a potential lifeline to families struggling with opioid addiction.

"This spending plan includes critical funding that will save lives, accelerate disaster recovery, honor our commitment to our veterans, ensure the continuation of vital medical research, keep community health centers open, and provide critical support to our troops.

"Unfortunately, Republicans continue to ignore the moral call to find a legislative solution to the President's termination of DACA. It's been five months since the President put DREAMers at risk. They were brought here as children and this is their country. They are American in their hearts and in their minds. America is as much their home as it is our home, and if Speaker Ryan brought the DREAM Act before Congress, I am confident it would pass. We would protect DREAMers and pursue much-needed comprehensive immigration reform.

"We've got just weeks to get this done. We must fight for DREAMers with everything we've got. With tonight's vote behind us, the House agenda should focus on dignity, decency, and American values in this land of immigrants. The DREAM Act must now be the singular focus until we do the right thing for DREAMers. A promise from the Speaker is not enough. We need action."

Rep. Tom Rooney:

"The package we passed today fully-funds my request to help Florida farmers and growers recover from the storm, providing a total of $3.6 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $2.36 billion of which will be used to make direct payments to citrus producers who've suffered hurricane-related crop losses last year," Rooney said.

"In today's political climate, any bipartisan breakthrough in Washington constitutes a miracle," Rooney said. "I am glad Congress was able to put politics and partisanship aside and finally deliver a long-awaited lifeline to Florida's iconic citrus industry. It is so easy for some to forget that five months ago Hurricane Irma decimated Florida's Heartland. While many were able to resume daily life quickly after the storm, the situation facing Florida's citrus industry has only grown grimmer."

"I want to thank Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam for all his hard work in both Florida and Washington to shepherd this relief to our growers. I especially want to thank Congressman Dennis Ross for standing with our growers over the last five months and for remaining resilient in his efforts until this relief came through. The citrus industry plays such an important role to our economy and communities across the state. Today is a great day for Florida."

Rep. Brian Mast:

"The rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike has been ongoing for more than decade, and significant funding setbacks have meant that it wasn't expected to be finished for yet another decade from now," Rep. Mast said. "For the first time ever, we can say that this project is now fully funded at a level where it can be completed in four years instead of another 10.  This is a major accomplishment for our community that clears the deck to now focus on other critical projects like the S.B. 10-authorized southern storage reservoir.  A bipartisan group of Florida representatives fought hard for this money, and I was proud to help lead the way." The bill also reauthorized the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for an additional four years on top of the six years passed in January.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo:

"When Hurricane Irma hit Florida last year, many hard-working Americans in my home state of Florida, and specifically many of my constituents in the Florida Keys, lost everything they owned, and some even lost their lives. The community has come together to help their neighbors and begin the long road to recovery from the damage caused by the storm's 130 miles-per-hour winds and significant storm surge. Despite substantial progress, Keys Recovery in my district still has ways to go. The same can be said of recovery efforts in California, Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they recover from natural disasters. The increased disaster funding, increased budget caps on domestic and military spending, and numerous South Florida priorities in this legislation will do a lot of good for our community and the country, and fortunately, there is hope immigration will be addressed by Congress soon.

"The main obstacles to a compromise on immigration that delivers a fair, permanent solution for young immigrants brought to our country as children and secures the border so future illegal entry is discouraged and diminished have been Congressional Leaders' refusal to allow each Chamber to consider legislation on the Floor and the objections of extremists in both parties. However, this week, Members of Congress and the American people have received public assurances from Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both Chambers will make immigration their next priority.‎

"I am now more hopeful than ever a solution on DACA is within reach. With this significant development, I was proud to support today's spending measure to keep the government open so we can move onto the important issue of immigration."

Rep. Gus Bilirakis:

"This morning's vote was difficult for me.  I had to balance my serious concerns about adding to the deficit with the multitude of provisions in the bill that will have a tangible positive impact of the lives of my constituents. Chief among my reasons for supporting this bill was the need to properly fund our military.  This concern was reinforced by President Trump and Secretary Mattis's support of the bill.  The fact that 80 service men and women died in 2017 due to accidents and training incidents- nearly four times as many lives that were killed in combat, and the belief that those deaths may have been preventable with appropriate funding for training and equipment weighed heavily in my decision-making. There is also a long list of other significant items contained in the bill, some of which I authored, that will benefit seniors, children and the most vulnerable among us.  I've included a list of these provisions below.  It was a difficult choice, but ultimately, I decided to vote my conscience, and do what I believe in my heart will provide the most good for the greatest number of my constituents.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to make long-term, structural reforms to the process including passage of a balanced budget amendment and the meaningful reduction of our national debt."

Rep. Stephanie Murphy:

"I'll always put people over politics to get results for families in central Florida," said Murphy. "Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria, I've helped residents of Florida and Puerto Rico get the resources they need to get back on their feet. I'm particularly proud my bipartisan initiative to support stateside schools and universities enrolling displaced students will become law. However, our work in Congress is far from done. Democrats and Republicans must now come together to pass an enduring solution for Dreamers so that these aspiring Americans can continue to live in the country they love and to which they have contributed so much."

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart:

"This bipartisan legislation continues government operations and funds programs that are critical to Americans across the nation. It also invests in our military during a time where we must provide our troops with the proper resources to defend our country, help our allies, and stand up to our adversaries.

"I represent parts of Florida that are still rebuilding from Hurricane Irma, and the $89.3 billion supplemental will go a long way in helping these communities recover from storm damage. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to ensure my subcommittee provided adequate funding for disaster relief programs, particularly for the Federal Highway Administration's Emergency Relief program that repairs our infrastructure and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief program that assists homeowners and local businesses. Florida's crops, including its iconic citrus groves, were severely impacted, and I am grateful for the funds that will help our farmers get back on their feet.

"I congratulate Speaker Ryan and Chairman Frelinghuysen for their tireless leadership, and I look forward to continue working with our colleagues on other vital issues, including the remainder of FY18 funding and finding a permanent, legislative solution for DREAMers who were brought to the United States as young children at no fault of their own."

Rep. Al Lawson:

"While this Continuing Resolution (CR) is not perfect, and certainly not ideal, I support this temporary spending measure because it encompasses funding that is vital to our community. This package includes more than $80 billion in funding that will begin to help our area recover and rebuild from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma. It also extends funding for the Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) from six years to 10 years, reauthorizes community health centers with increased funding of more than $7 billion, and increases funding for the Social Security Administration –  allowing our seniors and other beneficiaries to receive improved services from regional offices. This is the fifth CR since September, and by this point, we should have already begun working on the budget for next year. It is time for Republicans and Democrats to work together to serve the American people."

Rep. John Rutherford:

"We have delivered on our promise to reinvest in our military, which has suffered for too long from a lack of resources and the uncertainty created by sequestration policy.  Funding our national defense addresses urgent readiness challenges, and ensures our troops have the resources they need to safely train and effectively execute their missions.  The bill also provides funding for Florida's recovery from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irma to help us rebuild our homes, businesses, farms, and coastlines stronger than before.  Additionally, this budget deal enables targeted investments in urgent priorities, including funds for states to address the opioid crisis, resources to reduce the backlog in veterans' service claims, and increased support for NIH biomedical research to find more treatments and cures for debilitating diseases.

"I hope that this bipartisan initiative will put an end to the gamesmanship and governing by crisis that has unfairly held our military hostage in the past weeks.  Our servicemen and women, and their families, deserve far better.  We owe it to them to do our job and responsibly allocate resources so they succeed in keeping us safe at home and abroad."

Rep. Stephanie Murphy:

"I'll always put people over politics to get results for families in central Florida," said Murphy. "Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria, I've helped residents of Florida and Puerto Rico get the resources they need to get back on their feet. I'm particularly proud my bipartisan initiative to support stateside schools and universities enrolling displaced students will become law.

"However, our work in Congress is far from done. Democrats and Republicans must now come together to pass an enduring solution for Dreamers so that these aspiring Americans can continue to live in the country they love and to which they have contributed so much."

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Rubio, DeSantis help pass budget deal