Florida Gov Ron DeSantis said that his state will apply for federal dollars to help recover after Hurricane Idalia — despite the fact he voted against providing disaster relief when he was in Congress.
On Friday, Mr DeSantis was asked about President Joe Biden’s call to increase money for FEMA’s disaster fund ahead of a visit to Florida on Saturday to survey the damage from the Category 3 hurricane.
“As governor, I’ll be pulling whatever levers I can to be able to help folks,” he said at a press conference. “We will apply for whatever federal money is available.”
But during his time as a member of Congress, Mr DeSantis regularly voted against disaster relief for other areas. In 2013, right after he joined Congress, he voted against a supplemental appropriations bill to help the Northeast recover from Hurricane Sandy.
Mr DeSantis was elected to Congress as part of a flurry of Tea Party conservatives who preached fiscal restraint. At the time, the Club for Growth, a fiscally conservative advocacy group, urged Republicans to vote against the legislation.
“Disasters may be unpredictable, but we know with 100% certainty that they will occur,” the group said in a statement at the time. “Therefore, Congress shouldn’t keep passing massive ‘emergency’ relief bills that aren’t paid for, have little oversight, and are stuffed with pork. Also, Congress shouldn’t use disasters like Hurricane Sandy as an excuse to spend billions on long-term projects that should be considered during the regular appropriations process.”
At the time, Mr DeSantis called the aid fiscally irresponsible.
“Congress should not authorize billions in new borrowing without offsetting expenditures in other areas,” he said in a statement, according to The Tampa Bay Times. “If a family maxes out its credit cards and faces the need for new spending, it is forced to prioritize by reducing its spending in other areas.”
“I see you’re trying to play the hits, but we have no time for politics or pettiness,” Julia Friedland, a deputy press secretary in the governor’s office, said in a statement.
But Mr DeSantis did not always oppose funding for disasters during his time in the House. In 2017, he joined the House in passing a supplemental appropriations bill to provide relief after Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, the latter of which affected Florida.