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Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott was one of six U.S. senators to vote against a massive $2.3 trillion bill to fund the federal government and provide a second round of coronavirus relief as the pandemic triggers new shutdowns around the country.
The 92-6 vote late on Monday evening sent the 5,593-page bill that provides $600 checks to many Americans and funds the federal government through Sept. 30 to President Donald Trump’s desk. He is expected to sign the legislation.
Scott said the funding bill’s process in Congress — where text was released just hours before the final vote after months of closed-door negotiations between congressional leaders — was unacceptable to him.
“Early this afternoon, we were finally provided the text of the combined $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and $900 billion COVID relief bill,” Scott said in a statement ahead of the vote. “It is almost 5,600 pages long and we’re expected to vote on it tonight. Who in their right mind thinks that this a responsible way of governing?”
The six senators who voted against the legislation were all Republicans who typically oppose efforts to expand federal spending. They include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who both ran for president in 2016. Scott’s no vote on the legislation could give him a way to differentiate himself with conservative voters if he runs in 2024.
The majority of Republicans, including potential 2024 presidential candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, voted in favor of the legislation. Rubio praised the legislation’s second round of Paycheck Protection Program money for small businesses in a statement ahead of the vote.
“To all of the small business owners who have worked hard to make ends meet and to all the employees left in limbo: help is finally on the way,” said Rubio, who leads the Senate Small Business Committee.
Scott said he also supported most of the COVID relief parts of the bill, which was much smaller than initial demands from Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but that he was opposed to most of the spending that was unrelated to the pandemic.
“In classic Washington style, vital programs are being attached to an omnibus spending bill that mortgages our children and grandchildren’s futures without even giving members a chance to read it,” Scott said. “I’ve repeatedly voted against enormous and wasteful spending bills. The easy route is simply to go along as Congress continues to do harm to future generations of Americans, but I will not be a part of it.”
The U.S. House passed the bill 359-53 hours before it was sent to the Senate. The entire South Florida delegation voted in favor of the bill, though three GOP representatives from Florida, Matt Gaetz, Bill Posey and Greg Steube, voted against the bill. Four Florida Republicans, Reps. Neal Dunn, Ross Spano, Dan Webster and Ted Yoho, did not vote.
Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a member of the House committee responsible for federal spending, said the legislation includes a new round of Everglades funding and an agreement to end surprise medical bills.
“We have already seen Florida capitalize on the programs these bills fund, and with its passage today, our state will continue to benefit from them moving forward,” Diaz-Balart said.