DeSantis, GOP Senator Butt Heads Over Bailout Money

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reportedly clashed with Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott over the state’s handling of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Scott wrote to governors and mayors in a Jan. 20 letter to remind them of a law requiring officials to return unspent COVID-19 relief funds to mitigate the $31.4 trillion national debt. Congress passed the State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act on Dec. 29 to direct state and local officials to return unspent money to mitigate the deficit.

DeSantis rejected the suggestion by arguing his state only has a “few hundred million” in COVID-19 relief funds and would not decrease the deficit, Politico reported. He instead urged Congress to decrease the national deficit by spending less money.

“If you look at how much money that is … it’s like $100 million, $200 million, a few hundred million,” DeSantis said. “How much dent would that make in the debt? I mean seriously. I appreciate when federal folks are concerned about how we’re managing this. Why don’t they get their house in order? Why don’t they stop spending so much of our money?” (RELATED: ‘They’re Going To Need To Pay’: Ron DeSantis Says China Hoarded PPE ‘To Screw Over The Rest Of The World’) 

Scott publicly opposed the Florida governor’s spending during the state and local bailouts, the outlet reported.

“Senator Scott opposed these state and local bailouts from the start,” McKinley Lewis, a spokesman for Scott, said. “That’s why he worked to change the law to allow this money to be sent back to pay down America’s $31 trillion debt so governors and mayors could responsibly return unused taxpayer money.”

In the recent letter, Scott said he initially wrote to return unspent funds and has repeatedly accused officials of misusing COVID relief money for unrelated purposes.

“Instead, many state and local governments are now swimming in extra cash, with some using funding intended for “COVID relief” as a slush fund for their completely unrelated pet projects, like new prisons, airport gate expansions, and golf courses,” he wrote. “This is unacceptable, particularly at a time when families and small businesses are struggling to keep up amid a raging inflation crisis and stretching budgets to keep their businesses open.”