Florida officials cheer passage of federal disaster relief bill

Gov. Ron DeSantis calls it 'huge victory for Floridians'

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MIAMI – Florida officials are applauding the passage of a long-delayed $19.1 billion disaster aid bill in Congress.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called it a "huge victory for Floridians."

After months of political infighting, the relief funding comes in response to disasters such as Hurricane Michael, which hit the Florida Panhandle last year.

The House approved the measure after disputes over whether Puerto Rico should receive additional aid. President Donald Trump also wanted some funding in response to thousands of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

"I thank our leaders in Congress who helped pass this much needed relief and President Trump for his leadership and support on this effort," DeSantis said.

Sen. Rick Scott echoed Desantis' praise, saying in part that "once the president signs this bill, our communities will finally get the resources they need to continue rebuilding their lives and their communities.”

All 222 voting Democrats and 132 Republicans backed the bill. Florida and Georgia lawmakers had requested help for farmers, towns and military bases ravaged by hurricanes last fall.

The bill includes access to $4.4 billion for the state's agriculture industry and more than $1.6 billion for the Air Force that will help rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base after it was heavily damaged during Hurricane Michael.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried called the disaster relief "long-overdue," as this year's hurricane season has started.