UPDATED: Relief bill praised by Florida ag leaders

(UPDATED, Dec. 19) Winning praise from Florida agricultural leaders, Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed an $81 billion disaster relief bill that includes $2.6 billion for agricultural assistance.

“Florida’s farmers, ranchers and growers suffered unprecedented damage from Hurricane Irma, and today’s announcement of proposed emergency funding for Florida agriculture is the first bit of good news we’ve heard in months.” Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam said in a news release.

“I will continue to work with leaders in Washington to make sure that this funding becomes a reality so Florida’s agriculture industry can continue to do what it does best: feed our state, our country and the world.”

After Hurricane Irma in September, Putnam said Florida agriculture suffered more than $2.5 billion in damages and an earlier $44 billion disaster relief request from President Trump lacked funds for agricultural assistance. In late October, Trump signed a bill passed by the House and Senate providing $36 billion in disaster relief.

The House disaster relief package in the House may be attached to a spending bill needed this week to prevent a government shutdown, though some media reports said that approach could create difficulties for passage of the legislation in the Senate.

The government’s current funding bill expires Dec. 22, and both houses of Congress were looking for another one-month spending bill that would keep the government running until Jan. 19.

Besides hurricane relief, other issues that have become connected with the temporary spending bill include spending limits on domestic and defense programs, giving legal status to some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children and other topics.

At the same time Congress is working to find agreement on a temporary funding bill, Congressional Republicans expect to pass tax reform bill by Dec. 22.

 

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