Matt Gaetz is asking the government to fund Hurricane Ian disaster relief in Florida days after he voted against FEMA aid

Rep. Matt Gaetz talking
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., addresses attendees during the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit on July 23, 2022, in Tampa, Florida.Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP
  • In a tweet on Sunday, Matt Gaetz asked Congress to send financial aid to Florida.

  • Gaetz said he was asking for help "on behalf of my fellow Florida Man in grave need of assistance."

  • Gaetz was among the 201 Republicans who voted no to a bill that carved out cash for FEMA.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is calling for the US to send aid to Floridians in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian — but he also voted "no" to a bill that carved out cash for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to do just that.

In a tweet on Sunday, Gaetz appealed for help after Hurricane Ian battered Florida. Ian was a Category 4 storm when it made landfall and pummeled the Florida coast, killing at least 76 people.

"Dear Congress: On behalf of my fellow Florida Man in grave need of assistance…. Just send us like half of what you sent Ukraine. Signed, Your Fellow Americans," Gaetz wrote on Twitter.

Gaetz's appeal for funding came two days after he — and 200 other Republicans — voted against a stopgap measure that sought to fund the government through December. Among other provisions, the bill also gave $18.8 billion to FEMA's disaster relief fund, $12 billion in aid for Ukraine, and $112 million to beef up security at federal courts.

Speaking on the House floor in support of the bill last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that passing the bill would free up disaster recovery funding that would "go toward supporting Florida as well as Puerto Rico, Alaska and other communities hit by disaster."

In the roll-call vote on Friday, 10 Republicans joined 220 Democrats in voting for the bill. It was signed into law by President Joe Biden on September 30.

In a video posted to his Twitter page on October 1, Gaetz said he voted against the bill because it had other spending priorities tagged to it as well.

"This was a piece of legislation regarding insulin prices. And they attached the entire funding of our government and Ukraine's to that bill so that these programs and these policy choices would not be subjected to committee review, and to hearings, and to markups and amendments," Gaetz said in the video.

In response to Insider's request for comment, a Gaetz representative directed Insider toward Episode 73 of Gaetz's "Firebrand" podcast — in particular a segment where Gaetz weighed in one what the Gaetz representative called bad policy and bad legislating. In the podcast, the congressman accused Pelosi of trying "to dictate budget terms into potential Republican control" before a potential Democratic Party loss in the midterms. Gaetz also rebuked the ten Republican House members who voted yes on the bill for, in his words, being "dumb" enough to get on board with the legislation.

The Florida congressman was part of a group of 42 Republicans who vowed in a September 19 letter to "do what is necessary to ensure that not one additional penny will go toward this administration's radical, inflationary agenda."

"Any legislation that sets the stage for a 'lame duck' fight on government funding gives Democrats one final opportunity to pass that agenda," the letter read. The letter also vowed to "oppose any continuing resolution that expires prior to the first day of the 118th Congress," and any appropriations package put forth by the Democrat-led Congress.

Gaetz was not alone in opposing this bill while simultaneously asking for aid. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, too, asked for hurricane relief while voting against it. When questioned on CNN on October 2, Rubio said the bill had been "loaded up with a bunch of things that had nothing to do with disaster relief."

"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," Rubio said.

Rubio added that he was fighting against the legislation because it had "pork" in it, slang for unrelated funding requests being tagged to government spending.

The full scope of Hurricane Ian's destruction is still being assessed. It's estimated to be one of the costliest hurricanes ever, with losses predicted to fall between $28 billion and $47 billion, according to a storm damage assessment by the data and research company CoreLogic.

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