House OKs $19B Disaster-Aid Bill Opposed by Trump

This June 18, 2018 photo shows an aerial view of the Amelia neighborhood in the municipality of Catano, east of San Juan, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera, File)

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives on Friday passed a $19 billion emergency spending package that includes money to help Puerto Rico, the Midwest and other regions recover from recent hurricanes and other natural disasters.

The bill gives $600 million in relief aid to Puerto Rico, as well as $3 billion to help respond to flooding in the Midwest. In addition, the bill provides some $500 million to farmers and ranchers that were impacted by flooding and other disasters.

“American citizens are relying on our federal government to deliver a robust disaster relief package,” Representative Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said on the House floor Friday.

“They’ve waited long enough and, frankly, they can’t afford to wait any longer.”

President Donald Trump had urged Republicans to vote against the bill, frustrated that the legislation does not include $4.5 billion the White House requested for aid at the southern border. Trump has also publicly fumed about the money in the bill for aid to Puerto Rico, saying the territory has already received enough relief money in the wake of Hurricane Maria.  

“House Republicans should not vote for the BAD Democrat Disaster Supplement Bill which hurts our States, Farmers & Border Security,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Up for vote tomorrow. We want to do much better than this. All sides keep working and send a good BILL for immediate signing.”

Most House Republicans ultimately sided with Trump, with just 34 bucking the president’s instructions and supporting the legislation. The bill passed the House 257-150 on Friday afternoon.

Before the vote, Representative Kay Granger, R-Texas, said she supports the bill’s efforts to help places recovering from natural disasters, but faulted it for falling short in other areas, including the border.

“We should provide much-needed relief to communities recovering from hurricanes, floods, wildfires and tornadoes, but we cannot turn our back on a border crisis that’s growing worse by the day,” Granger said.

The House passed a separate disaster relief bill earlier this year, but it did not come up for a vote in the Senate. Senators are also working out the details of a disaster-relief bill, but the timeline for when a deal will be reached and a bill voted on remains unclear.

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