$19B disaster aid package stalls after GOP congressman objects

Henrietta Brewer
May 25, 2019

Chip Roy took to the House floor late Friday morning to object when lawmakers tried to approve the legislation using a fast-track tactic, with many members of Congress already gone for the holiday.

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.

"The people, particularly in Texas. are exhausted of the swamp and this is a very swampy thing to do", he said. "We'll bring it up again and again until everybody gets back, but hopefully it'll get done next week". A senior Democratic aide told CBS News' Rebecca Kaplan that Republican leaders were satisfied with the bill and had hoped no GOP lawmakers objected.

"We've had months to figure this out", Mr. Roy said. "I think the story would remain the same, I've got to do my job and get to the district".

A few days after a red-faced meltdown in defense of drug makers taking as much profit as they damn well please, the Republican lawmaker has singlehandedly held up an aid package that would flow $4 billion to parts of Texas prone to hurricane damage. Roy's objection was all that was needed to defeat the vote, which means the next opportunity to pass the bill will be during the next pro forma session on Tuesday. The Senate passed the same measure Thursday with a vote of 85 to 8. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who served in that role as Cruz helped force the federal government into a partial shutdown in 2013 that lasted more than 2 weeks. In addition to process concerns, Roy told reporters he was upset negotiators dropped billions of dollars to help the Department of Health and Human Services process a surge of migrants at the southern border. In addition, he said, "This is a $19 billion bill that is not paid for" by cuts elsewhere in the budget. "Every House Republican needs to answer to the American people why they are standing in the way of urgently needed disaster relief for families struggling to heal and recover", Pelosi added.

It's expected to be only a temporary delay, however.

It took months for Congress and the White House to strike a deal, as negotiations between Republicans and Democrats stalled over funding to address the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border and how to rebuild Puerto Rico two years after Hurricane Maria hit the USA territory.

House members left town Thursday-before the Senate had yet struck a deal on the disaster aid bill-for the congressional recess, and will not return until June 3.

Other reports by iNewsToday