Tuesday, June 4, 2019
House finally approves $19.1 billion disaster aid bill
The House on Monday passed a $19.1 billion disaster relief package, finally sending legislation to the White House that had been repeatedly blocked by conservatives over the Memorial Day recess.
The legislation was approved in a 354-58 vote.
The House sought to move the bill three times by unanimous consent over the last week, but the vote was blocked by a different conservative Republican each time.
GOP Reps. Chip Roy (Texas), Thomas Massie (Ky.) and John Rose (Tenn.) each blocked the unanimous consent vote, arguing there should be a full debate on the measure.
Roy, a former staffer to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), argued the spending should be offset by other spending cuts and said he was concerned about adding to the national debt.
“The American people send their representatives to Washington to represent them. They deserve to see how we vote. While I'm happy the Speaker chose to go back to regular procedure, I am still troubled we're poised to spend $19 billion that is not paid for when we are racking up $100 million an hour in national debt,” he said on the floor Monday.
The measure includes funding for communities hit by various natural disasters across the country. It also includes $900 million in aid to Puerto Rico, funding that was initially opposed by President Trump as being too much.
The measure passed the Senate in an 85-8 vote in late May.
A number of lawmakers during Monday’s debate criticized Congress’s failure to pass the bill last week.
“Today we're rejecting the political stunts and grandstanding that have made it difficult to deliver much-needed disaster relief to families and communities across America,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) ahead of the vote.
The three conservatives who had blocked the bill also took heat from their fellow Republicans.
House Appropriations Committee ranking member Kay Granger (R-Texas) accused them of pulling a “political stunt.” Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) last week called them “clowns” in a tweet.
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