Sen. Marco Rubio voted against a pork-filled disaster aid package after Superstorm Sandy in 2013, and he said he'll also reject aid after Hurricane Ian's slam into his state of Florida if his fellow lawmakers "load it up" with spending not related to the storm.
"I will fight against it having pork in it," the Florida Republican said on CNN's "State of the Union." "We shouldn’t have that in there because it undermines the ability to come back and do this in the future.”
Congress is capable of voting for disaster relief after key events such as Hurricane Ian "without using it as a vehicle or a mechanism for people to load up with stuff that's unrelated to the storm," Rubio said. “I think disaster relief is something we shouldn’t play with."
While Rubio later voted for a different piece of legislation on Sandy, he said the first package was "loaded up with a bunch of things that had nothing to do with disaster relief. I would never put out there that we should go use a disaster relief package for Florida as a way to pay for all kinds of other things people want around the country.”
Rubio and fellow Florida Sen. Rick Scott on Friday requested, in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, hurricane relief for Florida.
In a separate interview with ABC News's "This Week," Rubio said that Florida will only ask for emergency relief, not unrelated items like were in the initial Sandy package.
"It included funding that should have gone through the funding process, [like] cars for DHS, you know, a roof at the Smithsonian, fisheries in Alaska," he said. "They may be very meritorious projects but that should go to the normal process. This is about emergency relief."
Meanwhile, Rubio told ABC that he's seen many hurricanes as a life-long resident of Florida, but he doesn't think Hurricane Ian compares to any of them, as there are entire communities that are now gone.
"This is a character-altering event," the Florida Republican told ABC. "It will change the character and the nature of these communities. They’ll be rebuilt, but you can’t rebuild something that is a slice of old Florida and bring it back. It will be something new, but it won't be the same, and that’s the most heartbreaking part about it from an economic standpoint."
For example, he said, Fort Myers Beach "no longer exists," and will need to be rebuilt.
"It'll be something different," said Rubio. "It was a slice of old Florida that you can't recapture."
Sanibel Island is also "basically flattened," and even the remaining structures have been damaged by water and are uninhabitable, so the remaining people there will need to leave, said Rubio.
The bridge to Sanibel Island is also likely compromised structurally, not just damaged because of the parts that were washed away, and that means it will need to be rebuilt, said Rubio.
The federal response to the emergency, meanwhile, has been positive and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been "great," Rubio said.
There has also been an "extraordinary mobilization of the Army Corps, the Coast Guard," and federal assets are in place for people who need the help, including businesses who will be eligible for help from the Small Business Administration, said the senator.
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