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Florida’s congressional members press House panels for Everglades money

‘We urge the committee to allocate the $200 million requested by the President.’

With recent support from President Donald Trump, Florida’s congressional delegation is renewing its press on critical U.S. House of Representatives panels to come up with $200 million for Everglades restoration in the federal budget.

In a bipartisan letter organized by Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Alcee Hastings and Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Francis Rooney, 16 of Florida’s 27 House members on Monday urged the allocation of the full $200 million sought by Trump now, and by a virtual unanimity of Florida’s elected leaders all year.

The letter went to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, Democratic U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey of New York and Republican U.S. Rep. Kay Granger of Texas; and to the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho.

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the Energy and Water Appropriations Act Tuesday.

“South Florida Ecosystem Restoration is the annual line-item in the Energy and Water Appropriations Act that is critically important to funding the multi-decade and intricate series of overlapping project features necessary to achieve the national priority of Everglades restoration. As you know, on May 13, the President submitted a budget amendment to the Corps of Engineers Construction request for a total funding level of $200 million for the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration. We urge the committee to allocate the $200 million requested by the President for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration during full committee markup of the Energy and Water Appropriations Act.,” the letter reads.

Monday’s letter also was signed by Democrats Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto, Ted Deutch, and Donna Shalala; and Republicans Matt Gaetz, Ted Yoho, Michael Waltz, Bill Posey, Daniel Webster, Vern Buchanan, and Greg Steube.

Florida already has five votes on the House Appropriations Committee: Democrats Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, and Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, and Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami, and John Rutherford of Jacksonville. Wasserman Schultz and Frankel also are on the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development.

The letter essentially is a reminder, accompanied this time by the fact Trump has backed the $200 million.

In March, Mast, Rooney and Florida’s two Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott urged the $200 million in a statement. And before Trump got on board, all 29 of Florida’s members of Congress and the Senate and Gov. Ron DeSantis urged Trump to increase his initial recommendation to $200 million, from less than $70 million his proposed federal budget initially sought.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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