House Democrats passed a disaster relief bill Monday after Republicans worked to block the measure.
The bill passed 354 to 58 after Republican blocked the bill from advancing on three occasions while lawmakers were on recess, Politico reported. The bill will free up cash for regions of the country hit hard by hurricanes, tornadoes, and extreme flooding.
“It’s been protracted. It’s so long — longer than I’ve ever heard,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby of Alabama said Monday about the process. “A lot of people were waiting too long. I think we could do better. I don’t think it was our best show.”
Senate negotiators agreed to a nearly $20 billion disaster relief package in May, but Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy derailed the disaster aid bill in the House by objecting to a unanimous consent vote — the objection did not block the legislation, but rather required the House to vote on the measure through a roll call.
It makes more than $331 million available to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as more than half-a-billion dollars in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico. President Donald Trump argued the U.S. territory’s officials are “incompetent” and that the islands have received more than enough federal assistance.
California, which was hit by wildfires throughout the year, is eligible for money through USDA rural development programs. Nearly $16 million would go to the Department of Interior to cover firefighting costs, while another $720 million will be used to repay state accounts that were depleted in 2018 to cover fire-related costs.
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