Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is urging her colleagues in the House of Representatives to vote in favor of a $15 billion hurricane relief bill passed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday.
"As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, I would ask that all my Congressional colleagues reflect on the fate of Florida’s 20.61 million residents when they are asked to again vote on this vital emergency disaster funding as it comes back from the Senate," Ros-Lehtinen said in a dear colleague letter to the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives passed a $7.85 billion Harvey relief bill by a nearly unanimous vote on Wednesday, but the Senate bill gives nearly double the funding and would give FEMA more time to respond to Harvey and Irma before it runs out of money.
The Senate bill is part of a larger deal by President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders which ties hurricane funding to a short-term increase in the nation's debt ceiling. A number of conservative Republicans voted against the Senate bill because they opposed the deal, but Sen. Marco Rubio would have voted in favor of the bill because it provided essential FEMA funding even though he also opposed the deal. He was not present for the vote on Thursday because he was in Miami preparing for the storm.
"I urge all of my Congressional colleagues to please vote in favor of vital funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and allow the agency to continue to plan, prepare and respond to the looming disaster presented by Hurricane Irma," Ros-Lehtinen said.
Ros-Lehtinen and her South Florida colleagues likely won't be on hand for a House vote on hurricane relief, as they are in Miami preparing for the storm. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, was the only member of Miami-Dade's congressional delegation present for votes on Thursday.