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Florida politicians react to budget deal ending government shutdown

The House has narrowly passed a sweeping bipartisan budget accord, ending an hours-long government shutdown and clearing a path for huge spending increases for both the Pentagon and domestic programs.

The 240-186 vote sends the $400 billion spending plan to President Donald Trump, who has promised to sign it.

Passage of the measure came over the opposition of Democratic leaders who demanded the promise of a vote to protect “DREAMer” immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

A band of tea party Republicans swung against the legislation as well, repelled by its spiraling spending levels.

Here is a compilation of reactions from Florida politicians to the budget deal.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (via Twitter):

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio:

“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.”

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam:

“The passage of this spending bill is a critical first step to finally getting Florida’s farmers, ranchers and growers long-awaited and desperately needed relief. Without this emergency assistance, Florida agriculture cannot fully recover from the unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

“I want to thank Governor Rick Scott and the members of Florida’s congressional delegation that supported this effort and fought for Florida agriculture over the last days, weeks and months.”

U.S. 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.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor:

“Passage of the bipartisan budget deal is particularly important to Tampa Bay area families, veterans and service members.  Medical researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida can continue to find the cures of tomorrow and improve treatment of diseases due to the boost in funding for the National Institutes of Health.

“Our service members at MacDill Air Force Base, including Air Mobility, Central Command and Special Operations Command, can plan ahead and make strategic decisions for America’s national security that were previously put on hold due to damaging temporary funding bills from the Republican-led Congress.

“Communities across Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will receive the resources to recover from a devastating hurricane season.  Significant new funds for veterans, children’s health care, community health centers and opioid addiction also are contained in the package.

“While Republicans did not allow it, I voted on the floor early this morning to proceed to take up Rep. Roybal-Allard’s (D-CA) H.R. 3440, the Dream Act of 2017.  Republicans have continually refused to take up this legislation to reform our nation’s broken immigration system.  Pres. Trump’s September announcement to end DACA makes it necessary for Congress to act now.  It is vital that the focus shift now to provide a pathway to citizenship for our DREAMers and Republicans must stop blocking debate and a vote.

“I am very pleased that my bill sponsored with Rep. Gus Bilirakis to increase fines and penalties on Medicare fraudsters was included in the package and is set to become law.

“New monies also are directed to tackle the backlog of Social Security disability claims and I will press for a portion of the funds to be directed to the Tampa office to address the huge backlog of disability claims.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings:

“Once again the GOP leadership has failed to propose a long-term budget that responsibly funds our military, healthcare, disaster relief, and other vital priorities.”

U.S. 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.”

U.S. 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.”

State Sen. Denise Grimsley:

“Last week I wrote to our congressional delegation to reassure them that their efforts to bring disaster relief to Florida farmers were not in vain. Today, I want to thank them for their success. Were it not for leaders like Tom Rooney, Dennis Ross, Vern Buchanan, Mario Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Carlos Curbelo, Marco Rubio and so many more, we would have scarcely seen results. The measure President Trump signed today is also a reminder that his and Secretary Perdue’s commitment to Florida following Irma has been fully confirmed.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast:

“The rehabilitation of the Herbert Hoover Dike has been ongoing for more than a decade, and significant funding setbacks have meant that it wasn’t expected to be finished for yet another decade from now. 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.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy:

“I’ll always put people over politics to get results for families in central Florida. 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.”

U.S. 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.”

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster:

“I ran for office pledging to do my part to stop the spigot of spending and get our fiscal house in order. In the last seven years, we have made small steps forward to reduce spending and slow the growth of our massive national debt. We’re currently on the path to have a prosperous economy – thanks to regulatory rollbacks, a forecast of regulatory certainty, the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“I support increased investments for the Department of Defense.  Ensuring a strong, well-equipped military is a fundamental responsibility of the Federal Government.  I have voted multiple times to increase the Department of Defense’s budget and provide funding for the pay-raises our troops have long deserved.

“I also support one-time funding to assist our agriculture industry as it continues to recover from last year’s devastating Hurricanes.  But the additional levels of spending included in this deal, adds an annual trillion-dollar deficit to our already unsustainable $20 trillion debt.

“The massive growth in debt jeopardizes our national security. Voting for this deal today would be voting to do the opposite of what I pledged to my constituents and the American people.

“For these reasons and more, I cannot support this bill.

“I pledge to continue to work hard on behalf of Florida’s hardworking taxpayers and families to advance common-sense reforms and principled policy and budgets that get our fiscal house in order.”

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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