Matt Gaetz Votes Against Disaster Relief Days After Hurricane Ian Hits

Just days after Hurricane Ian ravaged his home state, Representative Matt Gaetz was one of many Republicans to vote against a stopgap measure that would continue funding the government and provide billions of dollars in extra disaster assistance.

The House of Representatives approved a continuing resolution on Friday, giving the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the ability to spend through the Disaster Relief Fund, freeing up $15 million more in aid for disaster relief. Only 10 Republicans voted for the measure, two days after a Category 4 hurricane barreled through Florida, killing dozens and causing billions in economic damage.

Gaetz indicated he'd vote against funding to benefit government agencies earlier this week. He joined dozens of his colleagues in signing a letter that they would "do what is necessary" to prevent additional funding for the Biden administration.

"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 said. "Therefore, we, the undersigned, will oppose any continuing resolution that expires prior to the first day of the 118th Congress, or any appropriations package put forward in the remaining months of this Democrat-led Congress."

None of the representatives who signed the letter voted in favor of the resolution.

Following the vote, Gaetz discussed his reasoning in his podcast, Firebrand. He criticized the 10 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill.

"One thing that did happen in Congress today was also the passage of legislation that harms our Federalist system, deprives states of the ability to innovate, and continues the failures of the federal government on a continuing resolution into December," Gaetz said. "Now, why December? Well, everyone expects the Democrats are going to lose the House in November. So after losing the House, Nancy Pelosi still wants the opportunity to dictate budget terms into potential Republican control, and some Republicans were so dumb they went along with this. It's not just that it empowers Nancy Pelosi, it includes bad policy as well."

The House's passage of the bill follows the Senate passing the bill with 25 Republicans supporting the measure. The bill will now go to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed.

Matt Gaetz Speaks During a Committee Meeting
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee mark up hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on June 2 in Washington, D.C. Gaetz was one of many Republicans who recently voted against funding more disaster relief. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Biden recently approved a major disaster declaration for Florida, which released federal funding for nine Florida counties affected by the hurricane. Those who lost their homes and possessions can apply for federal grants to secure temporary housing, repair their homes or obtain low-cost loans for uninsured property losses.

"Folks in Florida who have destroyed or damaged homes—if you don't have enough insurance, it means the federal government will provide individual assistance of [up to] $37,900 for home repairs, another $37,900 for lost property—everything from an automobile to a lost wedding ring," Biden said on Thursday.

He also implied the death toll could rise as damage assessments continue, calling Ian potentially one of the deadliest storms in Florida's history. As of Friday, WBBH-TV in Fort Myers, Florida, reported the hurricane had killed at least 21 people.

Before the hurricane hit, Biden declared a state of emergency for Florida, which authorized the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts. The hurricane could be one of the costliest storms in Florida's history, and it is estimated to have caused up to $65 billion in damage.