By Devan Cole, CNN
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Sunday that he will vote against any potential congressional disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Ian if lawmakers “load it up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm.”
“Sure. I will fight against it having pork in it. That’s the key,” the senator told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” when asked if he would vote against any potential relief package that also contains money for other things. “We shouldn’t have that in there because it undermines the ability to come back and do this in the future.”
“I think disaster relief is something we shouldn’t play with. We are capable in this country, in the Congress, of voting for disaster relief for key — after key events like this without using it as a vehicle or a mechanism for people to load it up with stuff that’s unrelated to the storm.”
Rubio had previously faced criticism for voting against federal disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy because he said the relief wasn’t narrowly tailored to address only the storm. The senator later voted in favor of a piecemeal aid package for victims of Sandy.
“It had been loaded up with a bunch of things that had nothing to do with disaster relief,” he told Bash on Sunday, referring to a Hurricane Sandy aid package he voted against. “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.”
On Friday, Rubio and fellow Florida Sen. Rick Scott sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting their “support in developing a disaster supplemental to provide much needed assistance to Florida.”
“A robust and timely federal response, including through supplemental programs and funding, will be required to ensure that sufficient resources are provided to rebuild critical infrastructure and public services capacity, and to assist our fellow Floridians in rebuilding their lives,” the Republican lawmakers wrote.
Hurricane Ian — expected to be ranked the most expensive storm in Florida’s history — made landfall Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 and had weakened to a post-tropical cyclone by Saturday, dropping rain over parts of West Virginia and western Maryland.
At least 67 people have been killed by Ian in Florida as it swallowed homes in its furious rushing waters, obliterated roadways and ripped down powerlines. Four people were also killed in storm-related incidents in North Carolina, officials have said.
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CNN’s Betsy Klein and Nouran Salahieh contributed to this report.