Matt Gaetz Asks Federal Government For Help With Hurricane Clean Up After Voting Against Bill To Fund FEMA Last Week

Toby Hazlewood

Republican appeals on behalf of 'Florida Man'

On October 2, Florida Republican Matt Gaetz took to Twitter to make an appeal to the federal government for help in cleaning up after Hurricane Ian brought death and destruction to the Sunshine State. He made his appeal on behalf of 'Florida Man', asking for "like half what you sent Ukraine".

What he conveniently left out was that on September 30 he voted against bill HR 6833 - The Continuing Appropriations bill that would have provided $18.8 billion in funding to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA is the organization that the government uses to provide such help that Gaetz has reached out for.

In short, it would seem like Gaetz is happy to make the public pleas for help on behalf of his state, but when it comes to approving initiatives that would allocate the required funds, he wasn't prepared to do that.

Meanwhile, Republican Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis has gained a lot of positive feedback for his preparations and subsequent handling of the hurricane and subsequent clear-up operation, for largely approaching it without seeking to score partisan political points. He was particularly praised for efforts to discourage prospective looters from taking advantage of those who have already suffered.

Conflating issues

Just 10 House Republicans voted in favor of the bill which also included $12 billion in aid for Ukraine, and $112 million to beef up security at federal courts. It would seem that Gaetz and other Republicans objected to something else in the bill, hence why they didn't vote for it.

Given the prevalence of natural disasters in the United States this year and the escalating cost of clearing them up, and given that Hurricane Ian was already having an effect and threatening death and destruction in Florida, Gaetz may have considered it worthwhile to approve the bill given the large sum of money that was due to be given to FEMA as well as the humanitarian aid that was proposed to be sent to Ukraine.

A history of voting against positive bills

Unfortunately this is classic behavior for Gaetz, who seems motivated more by getting press coverage for voting against bills that would have positive impact, rather than by making considered decisions.

In July he was one of just 20 House Republicans who voted against the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention & Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022.

In September, together with Marjorie Taylor-Greene he was one of 49 Republicans who voted against bill HR8888 - the 'Food Security for All Veterans Act'. The bill seeks to address food insecurity among working age veterans, broadening access to schemes such as food stamps that help to prevent those in need from going hungry.

Earlier this year he also voted against capping the price of the diabetic drug insulin, claiming that instead, Americans with the condition should simply exercise more and lose weight.

In spite of Gaetz and his voting strategies, Florida is receiving federal help with the cleanup after Hurricane Ian. Governor DeSantis has acknowledged this assistance and other politicians in the state are busily pulling together with their fellow-Floridians to get the damage cleaned-up. It remains to be seen whether Gaetz will roll up his sleeves and pitch in too.

Do you think that politicians like Gaetz are genuinely committed to helping their citizens or is their political career motivated only by building their own profile? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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