U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) took to the Senate floor today to urge the immediate passage of a $15 billion disaster aid package needed to fund FEMA past Friday, as Hurricane Irma approaches the Florida coast.
“I urge the Senate, I implore the Senate, I beg the Senate to pass this package,” Nelson said on the Senate floor. “FEMA is stretched, and, of all things, FEMA runs out of money unless we act by tomorrow.”
“I left Florida in the middle of the night to come back to make sure that it has my stamp of imprimatur on this legislation,” he continued, “And I’m very glad that the majority leader has agreed to double the amount – basically $7.5 billion, for FEMA and another $7.5 billion for CDBG, Community Development Block Grants, both of which would be for natural disasters.”
“I have emailed yesterday to the administrator of FEMA, Brock Long,” Nelson added, “People are trying to get out, but they’re stuck on the roads, and now they’re running out of gasoline … An urgent plea that I made yesterday that I would make to FEMA again, that we get gasoline into the state of Florida.”
Prior to speaking on the floor, Nelson did a series of national interviews this morning as the storm approaches. Below you will find links to view each of those:
- Nelson on CNN at 8:30 a.m.:
- Nelson on The Weather Channel at 9:00 a.m.:
- Nelson on Fox News at 9:20 a.m.:
And here’s additional background on some of the other things Nelson is working on as Hurricane Irma approaches:
Sen. Nelson was in Miami and West Palm Beach Wednesday meeting with local emergency management officials in each county ahead of the storm.
On Wednesday, Nelson sent letters to:
- Sens. Schumer and McConnell calling on Congress to add additional funding to a $7.85 billion disaster aid package the House passed Wednesday for Hurricane Harvey to “account for the additional costs FEMA will likely incur responding to Hurricane Irma.” (Copy of that letter is here.)
- Brock Long, the head of FEMA, to help address South Florida’s growing shortage of gasoline.(Copy of that letter is here.)
- Acting NOAA Administrator Ben Friedman regarding the need for a reliable hurricane hunter backup capability. (Copy of that letter is here.)
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission urging the Commission to undertake additional efforts to educate consumers on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning from the improper use of portable generators. (Copy of that letter is here.)
On Tuesday, Nelson sent letters to:
- The Federal Trade Commission asking that the agency begin closely monitoring and, if necessary, take swift action against retailers engaged in price gouging as Florida prepares for Hurricane Irma. (Copy of that letter is here.)
- President Trump urging him to approve Florida’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for the state of Florida in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. (Copy of that letter is here.)
Also on Tuesday, Nelson spoke by phone to:
- Brock Long, the head of FEMA. He said FEMA is ready and is prepositioning people and supplies around the state.
- Admiral Zukunft, the commandant of the Coast Guard. He said he is already prepositioning ships and aircraft to come in right after the storm hits.
- Col. Kirk with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He said he’s ready and that Lake Okeechobee still has the capacity to hold another three feet of water before this hurricane would threaten the dike.
- General Calhoun with the Florida National Guard. He said they are ready and prepositioned.
- Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation, and asked her to urge the state to go ahead and lift the tolls on South Florida’s roadways, particularly I-95 and Florida’s Turnpike, to make it easier for folks who are starting to evacuate.