Florida lawmakers push for Everglades money

Hoping to hasten chronically delayed Everglades restoration, Florida lawmakers filed bipartisan legislation Thursday to authorize money for a $1.9 billion suite of projects.

The measure created a rare moment of harmony in Congress, with Democrat Bill Nelson teaming up with Republican Marco Rubio in the Senate and Democrat Patrick Murphy and Republican David Jolly joining forces in the House.

The move comes after a plan to revive flows to the Central Everglades was derailed in April when the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers balked at approving it — despite letters urging support from Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and several members of Congress. The delay meant projects designed to move water to the parched central Everglades missed being include in a massive waterworks bill that Congress typically tackles only a few times a decade.

The Corps’ chief is now expected to give his final approval in November.

Julie Hill-Gabriel, Everglades policy coordinator for Audubon of Florida, said she was surprised and pleased by the unified front. “It sends an even louder message when you can have something with this broad support from the Florida delegation right before the election.”