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Florida officials pleased as feds promise Irma aid

  • FILE- In this Aug. 23, 2017, file photo, Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, Fla. The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday, Aug. 31, that Scott had the power to reassign cases from Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) Lynne Sladky

  • James Constantineau loads sandbags in his truck as he prepares for the approach of Hurricane Irma on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in East Palatka, Fla. AP



Washington Post
Monday, September 11, 2017

Top elected officials in Florida are so far pleased with the federal response to Hurricane Irma and expect Congress to consider an emergency relief package in the coming weeks with the full support of President Donald Trump.

“The president said, ‘Look, I will provide whatever resources you need’ when I talked to him. I pretty much talk to him every day,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said on Fox News Sunday.

“It’s been very good, and there is cooperation between the federal level, the state and the locals,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation, adding that the coordination between agencies has been “seamless.”

Nelson, who was first elected to Congress in 1978 and also has served in state office, said the federal response was better than in previous hurricanes, such as Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which devastated Florida.

The Trump administration on Sunday signaled its support for quickly sending emergency funds to states hit by the storm.

Last week, Congress passed legislation to give more than $15 billion in disaster aid to areas affected by Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall last month in Texas as a Category 4 storm, battering Houston and causing massive flooding.

Trump, who signed that measure Friday, spent Sunday at Camp David. While at the presidential retreat, he monitored Irma developments and received a “comprehensive update” on the storm, according to White House officials.

Beyond Scott and Nelson, Trump also spoke with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and the governors of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee – four more states that could be affected by Irma.

“Together, we will restore, recover and rebuild, and we’ll do it quickly,” Trump said on Saturday in a meeting at Camp David.

Later Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency along with several members of the Cabinet.

On Monday, Pence will travel to Shanksville, Pa., to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He will tour and speak at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long said there is “great communication” between Congress and the Trump administration as both prepare for handling the next iteration of emergency relief.

“The Congress did its due diligence and passed the supplemental to allow us to keep moving,” Long said on Fox News Sunday. “And as I’ve been saying, paperwork and money should not get in the way of saving lives, and I believe Congress recognizes that.”

The Harvey bill passed a House vote, 316-90; every member opposed was a Republican, underscoring the opposition among some conservatives about attaching relief money to other legislation. The bill was part of a package that extended government funding and the federal borrowing limit until Dec. 8.

“About the only good news in this whole endeavor is that it does provide funding for FEMA, and it does those sorts of things I’ve talked about until December, which hopefully gives us time to go about doing it the right way,” Rubio told Fox News Radio last week.

Meanwhile, two Senate Republicans generated interest Sunday for their personal efforts and struggles.

Sen. Tim Scott, S.C., who said Trump’s “moral authority” was “compromised” by his response to the white-supremacist-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va., last month, is set to meet with the president Wednesday to discuss race relations, said two people familiar with the meeting.

Scott, who has sharply criticized Trump and his rhetoric on racial issues, had expressed interest in meeting with the president before the violence, the people said, but that get-together took on newfound urgency after Charlottesville.

For Trump, the meeting will serve largely as a “listening session,” one of the people said. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive meeting.

Trump came under intense criticism for his response to the white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which left one counterprotester dead and several injured. At the time, Trump refused to immediately condemn the violence and said that “both sides” were to blame.

Sen. John McCain, Ariz., battling brain cancer, reflected on a life well lived in an emotional interview Sunday, saying he was “very happy” with his 81 years and noting, “Every life has to end, one way or another.”

Speaking to Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union, McCain offered an optimistic update on his health – “the prognosis is pretty good” – and acknowledged the challenges he’s facing.

“Look, this is a very vicious form of cancer that I’m facing, but all the results so far are excellent,” he said.

McCain thanked the doctors overseeing his treatment, citing the Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health, and presenting himself as a man at peace.

“I’m very happy with my life, I’m very happy with what I have been able to do,” he said. “And there’s two ways of looking at these things. And one of them is to celebrate. I am able to celebrate a wonderful life, and I will be grateful for additional time that I have.”

When Tapper said he hoped it was not his last interview with McCain, the senator quipped, “A lot of people want it to be the last.”