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Congressman Ted Deutch On The New Stimulus Money Coming To Florida

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U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch sees the aid money in the new American Rescue Package as particularly helpful for live entertainment venues and restaurants in South Florida.

The latest round of federal stimulus money during COVID-19 has already sent payments of $1,400 into bank accounts.

President Joe Biden signed the plan into law earlier this month but the full $1.9 trillion American Rescue Package contains much more than those payments.

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How will that money trickle down to Florida and how will it help?

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch's district includes Fort Lauderdale and parts of Northwest Broward County, as well as parts of Palm Beach County and Boca Raton. Deutch recently spoke with WLRN about what programs and funding in the package can help South Floridans and tourism specifically recover as the pandemic continues on.

The conversation below has been edited for clarity and length.

WLRN: We're in the middle of spring break season in south Florida at the moment. Many businesses are open. People are coming here. Yet, we've got the most variant cases of COVID-19 in the country according to federal data. Do you think Florida's balancing the economy with public safety?

DEUTCH: Well, the goal throughout this entire pandemic was, one, to help people prevent illness in their family and in their community. In South Florida, the counties all stepped up and sent this message to the governor.

It means letting our local governments and businesses make sure that they're doing everything they can to to have businesses that are safely run, that are welcoming to to the community at large and that everything is done in a way that helps to, again, get us through these remaining days, weeks and months without seeing a big spike in cases — and without seeing an explosion of these different variants.

Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis laid out his spending blueprint for the federal stimulus money recently, including $1,000 bonuses for first responders and boosting tourism marketing efforts. What do you think of the plan?

Down here in South Florida — Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties together — will be receiving well over a billion dollars. And we have to make sure that that that money is is used to to provide the assistance that's necessary.

I want to protect first responders, I also want to recognize that our healthcare workers who have been on the front lines, that our nurses who have been on the front lines, that our teachers who have done such extraordinary work throughout this pandemic are recognized for it.

I'd like to see some talk of compensating those who have been at the fore, so that includes the broadest definition of frontline workers.

And what I'm most concerned with is that these are dollars that are used to help in the community, to get our local governments the assistance that they need.

I'm curious how you see this package being most helpful for the South Floridians you represent and also what's left to do?

No one is prepared to say that, with the passage of this, that we've solved all of the problems. I think this is to really move us forward.

It helps expand the loans that go out to small businesses. There's a program to help all of the live entertainment venues and museums that have been so hard hit from the pandemic, and we expanded that program here.

We do have some some provisions in here that will help the restaurant industry that's been really hard hit, in Florida especially.

Hopefully, this will pave the way for dramatic economic growth. What we have to do is make sure that everything in this, all of the money in the rescue plan, gets out the way that it's supposed to.