Disaster Relief Package, Aid For Lost Stored Grain Stalled In Congress

Clay Curtis
May 26, 2019

Democrats moved to pass the bill by unanimous consent, but Texas conservative Chip Roy objected.

"After President Trump and Senate Republicans delayed disaster relief for more than four months, it is deeply disappointing that House Republicans are now making disaster victims wait even longer to get the help they need", House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., said in a statement after Roy's objection.

The stunning turn of events came as most members of Congress had already left Washington for the Memorial Day recess and after the Senate on Thursday passed the bill 85-8.

"The people, particularly in Texas. are exhausted of the swamp and this is a very swampy thing to do", he said.

The Texas Republican said he objected because the bill lacks funding for the crisis at the U.S. -Mexico border. The hope, among backers of the bill, was that the House would pass the bill with a voice vote - a measure that would only work if there were no objections within the chamber.

The freshman congressman opposed a $19 billion bipartisan aid package that would have provided aid to hurricane-prone parts of Texas, as well as other parts of the country dealing with natural disasters. When asked if and how he would vote then, Roy said, "We'll see". That demand had proved contentious, and leaving it out sidestepped a fight over immigration that had further complicated the delicate disaster-aid negotiations.

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The House will "take action as early as next week" when it meets Tuesday, Hoyer said, adding that he was "outraged" by Roy's actions. He told his congressional colleagues that the US needed to "have a responsive and fiscally responsive approach to help people who are hurting in the wake of natural disasters" but that he did not want "to let the swamp continue to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren".

The bill, which would include much-needed assistance to states struck by floods, storms and fire, and aid for Puerto Rico, which suffered substantial damage in 2017 from Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 90 year, will now be held up until early June, when lawmakers return to Washington.

"One of many reasons I had to object today to consenting to the funding bill", he tweeted in response to a complaint from Uvalde, Texas, Mayor Don McLaughlin about migrants in his town.

President Trump has said he supports the bill, and said he's been assured he'll get the border money soon.

Roy jumped into electoral politics previous year after veteran GOP Rep. Lamar Smith announced his retirement.

Congress had been trying to reach a deal on disaster aid funding for months, with the main sticking point being how much should be allocated to Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the hurricane that wiped out much of the island nation's infrastructure in 2017.

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