Rubio presses Trump administration on Lake Okeechobee dike pledge

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio near a map of Lake Okeechobee during a 2016 visit to the South Florida Water Management District headquarters in West Palm Beach. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pressing President Donald Trump’s administration to put some money behind the president’s recent pledge to accelerate repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Trump — heeding the pleas of Florida Gov. and key political ally Rick Scott — endorsed a speeding up of renovations, which are now scheduled for completion in 2025.

But the White House statement on the dike was short on specifics — such as a target date for completing construction or the amount of money the administration is proposing to accelerate the job.

In a letter today to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Rubio thanks Trump for his pledge and notes that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to complete the dike fix by 2022 would cost $776.6 million.

“That plan requires specific funding levels of $212.4 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, $242.1 million in FY20, $203.9 million in FY21, and $118.2 million in FY22,” Rubio’s letter says. “Given that budget requests below these funding levels would threaten to leave South Florida communities along the dike vulnerable for longer than necessary, I am seeking to clarify that your commitment to an expedited rehabilitation timetable includes your support for these required funding levels.”

Rubio, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told Mulvaney he’s ready to help Trump “fulfill his commitment.”


Author: George Bennett

George Bennett has been a Palm Beach Post reporter since 1992. He grew up in Bethesda, Md. and is a graduate of The George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @gbennettpost

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