WASHINGTON, D.C. — Disaster funding is on the way to the panhandle but not until the House of Representatives votes to approve the bill.
On Thursday, the Senate passed a $19 billion dollar disaster bill. The house was set to approve the bill Friday morning but Texas Representative Charles Roy wanted otherwise.
“If I do not object, the Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends 19 billion dollars of taxpayers money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital to vote on it,” said Roy during a hearing in Washington.
Four hundred and thirty-four representatives agreed to approve the bill by what is called unanimous consent but Roy requested a recorded vote.
Despite the setback, local leaders say they’re still optimistic for the future.
“I feel very, this has a sense of inevitability to is. Everybody, all the old seasoned pros, there’s no way this does not pass,” said Congressman Neal Dunn.
The bill will give more than one billion dollars for Tyndall Air Force Base alone.
County commissioner, Philip Griffitts said, “that’s 1/3 of our economy. That’s our largest employer in the county. So that’s probably the largest piece of the puzzle in the disaster bill for us is the Tyndall rebuild can start and continue to grow.”
Dunn said, “if there’s anybody out there still doubts Tyndall is going to be completely rebuilt, this should put that question to bed. There are more than $1.7 billion dollars in the supplemental for Tyndall Air Force Base.”
Dunn says Tyndall will add an additional 4,000 jobs to the base and the bill also allows Eastern Shipbuilding to add 1,000 jobs.
Dunn says the house will vote on the bill the day they’re back in Washington, which is June 3, 2019.
Senator Marco Rubio released this statement: “This agreement is long overdue, and I urge the House to approve this agreement without delay. It is shameful that Hurricane Michael survivors in Northwest Florida were used as political pawns while they were suffering and trying to piece their lives, homes, and communities back together.”
Senator Rick Scott released the statement, “It took way too long, but we finally got this bill across the finish line. I’m thankful for my colleagues that worked with me to move this process forward. It’s a great day for Florida and the communities in the Panhandle that were devastated by Hurricane Michael.”
Representatives with Tyndall Air Force Base gave this statement, “We are excited to see that the supplemental is moving forward. Tyndall personnel are postured for execution for the day where we can transition from cleanup and repairs into starting the major reconstruction at Tyndall. We have positioned the program for this and are ready to start the next phase of this long sprint. As soon as the supplemental passes, we will get to work soliciting the very large design and then construction projects needed to rebuild Tyndall as the 21st Century base of the future. The Air Force will be generating airpower from Tyndall for the next 100 years and more.”