Democrats call on president to allocate $200 million for CERP

OKEECHOBEE — A day before Donald Trump’s visit to the Lake Okeechobee area, U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch, Donna Shalala, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Thursday called on Donald Trump to reverse his devastating budget cuts to Everglades restoration and environmental protection.

In a conference call with Florida media, the members of Congress called on the president to budget $200 million in federal funding in the 2020 budget for Everglades Restoration.

“This issue is very important to me and to all of us who live in Florida,” said Rep. Mucarsel-Powell. “I am eager to work with Democrats, Republicans, Independents. This should not be partisan issue.”

She said the House of Representatives is working on legislation to protect water nationwide.

President’s budget has fallen short in CERP funding for last three years. Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request to Congress, included $63 million for construction, less than a third of what the state’s Republican leaders requested and a 31 percent cut from 2019 enacted funding levels.

“We need to be bold and courageous,” she said. “We need courageous leaders to restore the Everglades.

The Congresswoman noted President Trump’s proposed budget asks for only $63 million for the Everglades, less than one-third of the $200 million proposed by the House budget.

She said the president’s budget also makes “deep, harmful cuts” elsewhere, including cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent.

“I truly hopes this president sees the error of his ways with this budget,” she said.

“I truly hope his visit to Lake Okeechobee is not a campaign political stop and that he will support our needs in Florida.”

Rep. Deutch said the president’s proposed budget benefits industry lobbyists more than it does the American people.

“Everglades restoration cuts have been recognized and panned in a bipartisan way,” he said.

He noted Everglades restoration has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades.

He said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made the restoration plans a priority with state funding.

He said it is up to Congress to make sure the federal government funds its side of the Everglades Restoration commitment.

“I compliment the governor on stepping up in his budget to do the state’s fair share for the restoration,” said Rep. Shalala.

“In many ways we are counting on him to educate the president,” she said.

“It’s life or death for the people of Florida,” said Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell. “If we don’t continue our investment in the Everglades, South Florida does not have much of a future.”

“We have been working now for the past few weeks on a bipartisan basis to push and to ask the Senate to ensure that we get the funding that we need for Everglades Restoration, $200 million,” she said.

“I hope he (the president) actually understands how crucial it will be to complete that project,” she said.

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