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WJCT News

Rubio, Scott assure Florida federal disaster funds unlikely to be diverted to wall

Reports that President Donald Trump is considering “repurposing” $13.9 billion in funding for disaster relief and water-related projects to pay for the border wall has Florida hurricane victims concerned that federal aid packages could be diverted and state officials apprehensive that money earmarked for critical repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee could be siphoned off.

That would “not be acceptable,” Gov. Ron DeSantis – an avowed Trump booster and strong “build the wall” advocate – said in response.

"We have people that are counting on" disaster relief money," DeSantis told the Tampa Bay Times. “If they backfill (diverted allocations) immediately after the government opens, that’s fine, but I don’t want that to be where that money is not available.”

However, both of the state’s U.S. senators and most members of its Congressional delegation say it is unlikely any of the $1 billion or so in disaster relief and water projects approved for Florida would be funneled elsewhere even if Trump opts to declare a national emergency and authorizes the use of such funds for the border wall.

Sen. Rick Scott raised the issue directly with Trump in a Jan. 10 phone call and has "no reason to believe that Florida disaster funds will be repurposed for any reason," a spokesman said.

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