With parts of the Panhandle continuing to recover from being hit by Hurricane Michael in October, Florida’s senior senator filed four amendments to a disaster supplemental bill currently on the U.S. Senate floor to offer more aid.
On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, offered the amendments and pointed to the proposal he made earlier in the month sending $3.6 billion to help secure the borders and almost $15 billion to help the nation, including the Florida Panhandle, recover from natural disasters last year.
“Earlier this month, I introduced legislation to secure our southern border and fully fund a disaster response package to help states recover from recent natural disasters, including many communities in Florida devastated by Hurricane Michael,” Rubio said. “These amendments would ensure the current disaster supplemental aid package currently being considered by the Senate fully addresses the critical issues local communities, and our Department of Defense, face to ensure they stay on a path to full recovery.”
Rubio’s first amendment would “include losses of aquacultured plants and animals as eligible for 2018 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program (WHIP) payments” using similar language that he used in his proposal earlier in March.
The second amendment would “include the following types of losses as eligible for 2017 WHIP payments: (1) blueberry productivity losses in calendar year 2018 as a result of extreme cold or hurricane damage, (2) milk, (3) aquacultured plants and animals” which, again, was included in Rubio’s earlier proposal.
Rubio’s third amendment would “limit the period during which certain disasters must have occurred to be eligible for 2018 WHIP payments to the period beginning on January 1, 2018 and ending on the date of the bill’s enactment.”
The fourth amendment would “increase funding for the Department of Defense to fully account for the needs of Tyndall Air Force Base. In total, the amendment would provide $1.9 billion in funding towards the Department of Defense (excluding Military Construction) for recovery and rebuild efforts related to the consequences of Hurricanes Michael and Florence. Of this amount, $1.7 billion for the rebuild of Tyndall Air Force Base.” Those proposed funds include $67 million for military personnel, almost $131 million for procurement and almost $1.7 billion for operations and maintenance.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.