U.S. House Finally Passes Disaster Aid Bill, Now Ready for Trump To Sign
June 4, 2019 (EIRNS)—The U.S. House yesterday passed a long-delayed disaster aid bill by an overwhelming margin of 354-58. Passed by the Senate in May, the bill now goes to President Donald Trump for his expected signature.
The legislation did not go forward for months while the President and Democrats fought over aid to Puerto Rico, which will receive $900 million in the bill passed.
While the bill was held up, other disasters occurred, such as Mississippi-Missouri River flooding in the Midwest, which had to be included. The bill now funds many federal programs that provide aid and money to rebuild to local communities, assist farmers, service members, and others.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) expressed worry that the difficulty in addressing these obvious disasters does not augur well for resolving a government shutdown date of Sept. 30, and the need to raise the federal borrowing limit or face default at that time.
The bill covers perhaps the broadest array of disasters ever addressed at one time: $2.4 billion for community development grants to address disasters since 2017; $3 billion for the Agriculture Department to cover producers’ losses from them, and $720 million for the Forest Service to repay money spent to fight last year’s wildfires, the Washington Post reported. The bill also extends the National Flood Insurance Program through Sept. 30. The President agreed to $600 million for Puerto Rico’s food stamp program and $300 million for a block grant, but insisted on the inclusion of language demanding good financial stewardship of the money to Puerto Rico.
The White House attempted to include $4.5 billion for the U.S. Mexico border spending, but no agreement was reached.