Breaking News

Texas congressman blocks House passage of disaster relief bill


Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, blocked a disaster relief bill in the House on Friday by objecting to an unanimous consent vote.

The Texas Republican who previously worked for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued the House should not have recessed before debating the legislation and holding a vote in arguing why he moved to stall the legislation.

“I'm here today primarily because if I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present in our nation's capital to vote on it,” he said on the floor.

“Secondly, it's a bill that includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we have at our southern border.”

He also cited concerns with how the bill would ultimately be paid for.

The $19.1 billion disaster aid package, which did not include the $4.5 billion in border funding requested by President Trump, passed the Senate in an 85-8 vote on Thursday, and the House GOP leadership had also supported moving forward with the bill.

The House is due to come back on June 3 though it will hold a "pro forma" session on Tuesday, providing another opportunity to pass the bill.

Roy slammed the Democrats' objection to provide border funding as a reason why he moved to block, for now, the disaster aid bill.

"While Speaker Pelosi has consistently denied the crisis at our border, and thus has denied the humanity of the victims of cartels and other traffickers, she has been insisting that there is no money to satisfy the good faith compromise emergency funding requests from the White House," he said.

Roy also forcefully argued the disaster aid bill should have included the border funding requested by Trump, saying it would have ensured the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services "do not run out of money while managing the over 100,000 illegal aliens being apprehended and the Unaccompanied Alien Minor Children being unable to be housed appropriately." 

The measure includes $900 million in aid to Puerto Rico — a provision the president previously objected to — in addition to assistance for areas of the United States affected by hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes and wildfires.

The bill included $4.38 billion that was slated to be allocated toward Hurricane Harvey housing aid to Texas.

The president previously agreed to sign the legislation, siding with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Sen. David Perdue's (R-Ga.), who called on him to support the measure.

The House GOP leadership had also wanted a unanimous consent vote to move forward for the bill, according to an aide.

"The House Republican Leadership position was to move forward with UC. It takes just one person to object and it is blocked," a House GOP aide told The Hill, referring to unanimous consent.

But Freedom Caucus leaders Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) had reportedly advised Trump to reject the measure after the upper chamber dropped the border security provisions from the bill, according to Politico.

Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) criticized Roy's blocking of the bill, calling it "political games over disaster assistance."

"While political games over disaster assistance continue as a Member from TX blocked a package from getting to @POTUS desk today, one thing is clear: This bill has broad support & will advance when the House reconvenes & will be signed into law by POTUS the first week of June," he wrote in a tweet.

No comments