On Saturday, U.S. Rep. John Rutherford expressed real concerns to FloridaPolitics.com about the $15.25B disaster relief bill the House passed.
His specific issue: raising the debt ceiling without spending cuts to ameliorate the impact.
Rutherford is cognizant of the need for FEMA money for relief from Harvey and now Irma; however, not unlike Sen. Marco Rubio, who lambasted the measure as one of the most “politically cynical” deals he’d ever seen. Rutherford had serious qualms about the mechanism of the deal, which included a deal cut with Congressional Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.
“Look, I was not happy with that at all. In fact,” Rutherford said, “I told some colleagues that I held my nose when I cast that vote, because I did not want to pass a clean debt ceiling bill, because I think we should put some mandatory cuts in there to help pay for some of this. But the President cut a different deal.”
“Look,” Rutherford added, “we can’t have FEMA running out of money in the middle of mitigation for Texas and Louisiana and shortly, Florida. I didn’t like it, but I had to vote for it.”
Some sources have reported that President Donald Trump disappointed GOP leadership by cutting a deal with the Democrats at the expense of conservative orthodoxy, such as that Rutherford espoused above.
Rutherford likewise was disappointed.
“I just thought he would give the Republican leadership the opportunity to respond to that first,” Rutherford said. “I can tell you there’s never been a debt ceiling raise without some mandatory spending cuts in there.”
Rutherford also has concerns about the long-term policy ramifications of such a move, seen by some conservatives as a sop to the center-left.
“This kind of drives home the point that I’ve been making about funding bringing people together, getting back to district-driven funding … funding creates a mutual need among Democrats and Republicans. This proves my point,” Rutherford said.
“I was at a budget meeting the other day,” Rutherford said. “I can tell you Republicans that I speak with are very concerned about raising the debt ceiling without mandatory cuts.”
That concern extends to Republicans currently out of office, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bush, though “thankful” for FEMA funding, harbors concerns about America’s debt load — and the President’s alignment with Republican orthodoxy on deficit spending.
Bush noted Friday that America is in a “fiscal crisis,” with $20 Trillion in debt, and $60 Trillion in “contingent debt.”
Trump is “going to have to rely on conservatives and Republicans to carry out the agenda,” Bush said, though how much buy-in Trump has with conservatives at this point is an open question.