White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre refused to say whether the administration will decouple hurricane relief funds to Florida from Ukraine aid during a Wednesday briefing.
“[Republican Florida] Sen. Rubio, whose state is recovering from [Hurricane] Idalia, says the $16 billion in additional disaster relief should be decoupled from the additional funding [sic] for Ukraine. Of course, that’s part of their request which seems to be opposed by many Republicans. Is the administration willing to separate these requests and seek the FEMA disaster aid independently to ensure it gets to the hurricane victims [and] Hawaii wildfire victims as quickly as possible or do you see that these things have to be grouped together for the request?” a reporter asked Jean-Pierre.
“We are not going to get into hypotheticals here about decoupling anything at this time,” Jean-Pierre said. “What we believe is that these are vital, important government programs that need to be funded, that Congress should act on, that has been done in a bipartisan way, and so that is what we are going to continue to do.”
Rubio and Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott have both discussed introducing legislation in September that would require federal funds meant to help pay for the damage done by Hurricane Idalia not to be linked to aid provided to Ukraine, according to the Florida Phoenix. The Biden administration proposed a spending package in August that would distribute $12 million in disaster relief to Maui and Florida as well as an additional $24 billion to Ukraine’s military. (RELATED: DeSantis Admin Says Meeting With Biden Would Do More Harm Then Good Amid Hurricane Efforts)
The funding package would also distribute $3.9 billion to address immigration issues as well as $60 million to cover raises for firefighters, the Florida Phoenix reported.
“Look, we see them both as incredibly important,” Jean-Pierre said. “I just laid out at the top what we saw happen in Ukraine. 16 civilians died. We are going to see the president go to the G20 talking about our commitment for Ukraine and making sure the people of Ukraine who are bravely fighting for their sovereignty, for their democracy, have what they need to fight against Russia’s aggression. We have been very clear about that. We believe that has been done in a bipartisan way and we have said we appreciate the bipartisanship that has come out of Congress in getting this done.”
“It is important,” Jean-Pierre continued. “It is important to help a country continue to fight for their democracy. And so we believe as the United States, the president believes as a leader that this is part of our job, part of our duty to make sure that Ukraine continues to fight again for sovereignty, for their democracy.”