Rubio Says He Will Reject Florida Hurricane Aid Package If Loaded With Pork Spending

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) appeared on the Sunday broadcast of CNN’s “State of the Union” and said that he will reject any federal aid package claiming to assist his home state of Florida if the bill is “loaded up” with pork spending not related to damage caused by Hurricane Ian.

He said he will “fight against it having pork in it” because it would lead to “the ability to come back and do this in the future.” While he said he is in support of federal disaster relief for his constituents, he added that Congress can vote for it “without using it as a vehicle or a mechanism for people to load up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm.”

He said, “I think disaster relief is something we shouldn’t play with.”

He pointed out that he voted against the initial relief bill that came after the extensive damage done by Superstorm Sandy in 2013, although he supported a revised package. He said the first bill was “loaded up with a bunch of things that had nothing to do with disaster relief.”

Rubio went on to say that Congress should never “use a disaster relief package for Florida as a way to pay for all kinds of other things people want around the country.”

The Florida senator, who is running this year for reelection, said in an earlier interview on ABC News’s “This Week” that Florida officials will be asking only for true emergency relief, not unrelated projects as was the case in the first Sandy relief package.

He said that legislators sought to include cars for Homeland Security, repairs at the Smithsonian, and fisheries in Alaska in the Sandy aid package. Rubio added that even if such projects might have merit on their own, they should not be part of an emergency spending bill.

In regard to the devastation created by Ian, Rubio said that of all the hurricanes he’s been through over the years this storm has been a “character-altering event.” He said he meant that it will “change the character and the nature of these communities. You can’t rebuild something that is a slice of old Florida and bring it back.”

Rubio praised the response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Ian, describing it as “great.”