If a hurricane hits Sarasota County, or Highlands County for that matter, and Southwest Florida in general, don’t look for help from Rep. Greg Steube, R-Florida.
Nope, we’re on our own.
That’s is the resounding message the freshman congressman sent this week when he voted against a $19.1 billion disaster supplement to help our fellow Floridians in the Panhandle rebuild from Hurricane Michael. The disaster relief bill will also help people in California who were burned out of their homes by wildfires; those in the Carolinas slammed by storms and flooding; and Americans in the Midwest who suffered when rivers poured over their banks and flooded homes and businesses.
National disasters are something we have to live with, unfortunately. Paying to rebuild is costly. There are differing opinions on who should foot the bill. Insurance companies can only do so much. Paying to replace infrastructure and utilities and house those left homeless, swiftly adds up.
In the past few years there has been some hand wringing in Congress over how to pay for all this. Sometimes politics come into play. This year was no different.
But, when push came to shove, the House of Representatives voted 354 to 58 to spend the money to help communities recover.
Many in Charlotte County recall how devastated we were following Hurricane Charley. Without the aid of state and federal governments, it would have taken years longer to return to anything resembling normalcy.
Of the 58 representatives who voted against the disaster relief funding, two were from Florida. That’s a little hard to swallow.
Rep. Steube and Rep. Francis Rooney, of Naples, would not agree to spend the money. According to the Tampa Bay Times, they were the only congressmen (except Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens who was absent) who did not vote for the measure.
Steube told Tampa Bay Times writer Steve Contorno:
“It has become all too common for Congress to use disaster funding to break through spending caps that are in place. There are legitimate needs for funding to assist with recovery from horrific natural disasters that affected Florida and other states around the country, however I could not support a bill that is completely fiscally irresponsible.
“While I am glad the Panhandle received the funding it desperately needed, I could not in good conscience vote for the Supplemental Appropriation which was filled with outrageous spending and no plan to pay for it. I ran for Congress refusing to add to the national debt and this bill had a high price tag with no offset.”
Steube’s embrace of not adding to the national debt is admirable. But, this is the same politician who vocally supported President Trump’s tax reform which has added a crushing amount of money to the national debt. Add to that his turning his back on Floridians and we have to ask if voters can support him in the next election.
The Sarasota congressman is in a “safe” district where Republicans are almost always guaranteed to win. But, when even influential Republican and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis tells the Tampa Bay Times “If I was in (Steube and Rooney’s) district, I’d vote them out,” you have to take note.
An editorial from the Charlotte Sun.