U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today voted against a continuing resolution that would delay a critical increase in funding for Everglades restoration by continuing to fund the government under the FY2019 appropriations levels. In July, Rep. Mast warned that House Democrat leadership was putting Everglades funding at risk after they passed a partisan appropriations bill that had no chance of being signed into law. He warned that, if Congressional leaders were unable to reach an agreement before the end of September, there would be a continuing resolution that would lock in South Florida Ecosystem Restoration funding at the previous year’s level of only $67.5 million. Today, that fear became reality, as House and Senate leadership failed to reach an agreement on new funding levels, locking in the lower amount for at least another two months. By doing so, they are delaying an increase to $200 million for Everglades Restoration funding that Rep. Mast and other Members of the Florida Delegation fought hard to secure during the appropriations process.
“Advancing a partisan bill that had no chance of becoming law was a bad strategy from the very beginning, and now we’re going to pay the price for their decision to put politics ahead of the American people. There’s no doubt that this is going to delay Everglades restoration efforts,” Rep. Mast said. “Instead of wasting time voting on a bad bill that had no chance of becoming law, we should have been working on a clean bill that increased funding for Everglades restoration without all the partisan, special interest riders. What’s worse is that instead of working to actually fix the problem, Speaker Pelosi has decided to kick the can down the road with a continuing resolution that locks in the lower level of funding for the Everglades. I will not stop fighting for this money because we cannot let these ridiculous political games get in the way of restoring the Everglades yet again!”
Rep. Mast fought for months to include $200 million in Everglades Restoration funding in this year’s Energy and Water Appropriations bill, but at the last minute, House Democrats attached funding bills for several other areas. The bill, which was originally supposed to fund energy and water programs, was amended to include provisions that would make it harder to secure our border, spend $100 million advertising Obamacare and expand abortion. As a result, the bill was considered dead on arrival in the Senate and the President threatened to veto it. Because House and Senate leadership were unable to come to an agreement, today they passed a two month Continuing Resolution to fund the government at the previous levels, which includes an annual amount of only $67.5 million for South Florida Ecosystem Restoration instead of $200 million.
Timeline of Events
- At the beginning of this year, Rep. Mast urged the White House to include $200 million in Everglades Restoration funding in their budget request.
- In mid-March, the White House released a budget that included less than $70 million in Everglades Restoration funding. Rep. Mast joined Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott and Congressman Francis Rooney (FL-19) in speaking out against that decision.
- Later in March, President Trump visited Lake Okeechobee where Rep. Mast made the pitch to the President to increase Everglades restoration funding, specifically citing the need to prevent harmful algal blooms.
- While continuing to work behind the scenes to convince the Administration to amend their budget request, at the beginning of April, Rep. Mast—as well as Representatives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Francis Rooney (FL-19) and Alcee Hastings (FL-20)—urged the Appropriations Committee to fully fund Everglades restoration.
- Rep. Mast also testified before the Appropriations Committee about the importance of this funding in April.
- On May 14, 2019, at the urging of Rep. Mast and other members of the Congressional delegation, the President amended his budget request to include $200 million in Everglades restoration.
- The day after the budget was amended, the Appropriations Committee Energy and Water Subcommittee nonetheless passed an appropriations bill that included less than $70 million in Everglades restoration funding.
- On May 20, 2019, after nearly a week of lobbying the committee to increase this funding amount, Reps. Mast, Mucarsel-Powell, Rooney and Hastings led a bipartisan group of Florida Members in formally urging the committee to meet the President’s amended budget request.
- On May 21, 2019, at their urging, the committee amended and passed the FY 2020 Appropriations bill with $200 million in funding for Everglades Restoration.
- On June 11, 2019, House Democrats attached dead on arrival funding provisions for Health and Human Services, Defense, Labor, Education and more to the Everglades funding bill.
- On June 19, 2019, the House passed this partisan bill over objections from Rep. Mast.
- On September 19, 2019, after failing to reach an agreement on appropriations bills, House Democrats voted to pass a two month Continuing Resolution that locks in lower funding levels for Everglades Restoration.