MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For the third year in a row, President Donald Trump has cut federal funding for Everglades restoration in his budget, from $200 million to $63 million.
The move has annoyed both Republicans and Democrats, who believed Trump’s close ties to Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott should have guaranteed White House support for the project.
In an interview with CBS Miami, Senator Marco Rubio denied Trump betrayed Florida, saying the President’s budget is merely a starting point.
“So the work now begins,” Rubio said.
However, the President’s budget creates added problems under House and Senate rules.
The $63 million figure in the Administration’s proposal creates a ceiling.
The only way to funnel more funding next year for the Everglades is to either convince the White House to change its request or steer money to another agency, such as the US Army Corp of Engineers, with instructions the money is to be used for Everglades restoration.
“Ideally the White House would amend the budget request and increase that number a little higher,” Rubio said.
Florida’s elected officials may soon face a similar crisis over offshore oil drilling.
During last year’s election, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said there would be no oil exploration off the Florida Coast – a move widely seen as a way the Trump White House could help Scott in his run for the Senate.
The election is over. Zinke is gone. And many wonder if the President would maintain his commitment to ban off-shore oil drilling.
“I’m vigilant,” Rubio said, when asked if he was confident. He noted there is “a pretty strong consensus in our [Congressional] delegation” that off-shore oil drilling is a bad idea.
“As I said we’re vigilant,” he added, “but I’m confident that at the end of this process that consensus will be respected.”
Rubio also said he opposes oil drilling in the Everglades.
“If it in anyway impedes the restoration work that we’re working on, then I would be opposed to it,” he said. “I’m against anything that slows down Everglades restoration. We’ve begun to gain momentum, we’ve got to finish it. We’ve got to do it now. We can’t afford a one or two year lull or any projects that get in the way of it.”