Florida leaders preparing for government shutdown

Florida will not be able to move forward with millions worth of disaster relief funds if Congress doesn’t act soon
Government shutdown would impact hurricane recovery
Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 6:56 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 8:33 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - Congress was still deadlocked on passing a short-term federal budget Monday.

If they don’t pass it by Saturday, the government will shut down, and many federal programs will stop.

Many people across the country are bracing for a shutdown. Florida Division of Emergency Management director Kevin Guthrie is one of those.

“When we don’t have those funds coming back in from the federal government, that hampers recovery,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said the state has $500 to $600 million set aside to match FEMA grants to help recover from disasters, mostly hurricanes. He said Florida can’t move forward if Congress doesn’t act soon.

“Every open disasters in the state of Florida, which I believe right now is 28 open disasters, will be impacted by the disaster relief fund not being funded,” Guthrie said.

Congress has been deadlocked on 12 bills to keep the federal government functioning through the end of the year. FEMA’s disaster relief fund is included among those bills and is usually passed.

A group of Republicans, including Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, said any temporary bill is a non-starter for them. They want to see significant budget cuts. But those proposed cuts likely won’t get past the Senate or President Joe Biden.

Gaetz said there’s some progress on military, agriculture and intelligence.

“Those bills will have a good amount of policy and spending cuts and I think it will put our country on better fiscal footing,” Rep. Gaetz.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott has been meeting with members of the Freedom Caucus. He told the Gray Washington, D.C. Bureau it’s time for people to agree to keep the government funded.

“I think people need to come together. That’s the way this should be. This should not be a partisan issue. It shouldn’t be partisan if you balance a budget. It shouldn’t be partisan if you have a budget,” he said.

The most recent, and longest, government shutdown started in December 2018. It lasted 35 days.

While Congress debates the budget, every other bill is set aside, including the Farm Bill, which includes money for SNAP benefits and other agriculture programs.

“Let’s not make emergency management a political issue. Let’s make it apolitical. Let’s just do the right thing and get a bill passed,” Guthrie said.