GOP conservative temporarily blocks $19B disaster bill

The move came a day after the measure flew through the Senate despite a Democratic power move to strip out President Donald Trump's $4.5 billion request for dealing with a migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Posted: May 24, 2019 11:51 AM

By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House GOP conservative complaining a long-overdue $19 billion disaster aid bill leaves out money needed to address the migrant crisis at the southern border blocked the bill Friday, extending a tempest over hurricane and flood relief that has left the measure meandering for months.

The move came a day after the measure flew through the Senate despite a Democratic power move to strip out President Donald Trump's $4.5 billion request for dealing with a migrant crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Texas Rep. Chip Roy, a former aide to Texas firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz, complained that it does not contain any money to address increasingly urgent border needs. "It is a bill that includes nothing to address the international emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border," Roy said.

He also objected to speeding the measure through a nearly empty chamber, saying it was important for lawmakers to actually vote on a bill that "spends a significant amount of taxpayer money."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a key force behind the measure which moved through the Senate with the enthusiastic embrace of Roy's two GOP senators, said the delays have gone on too long. Senate action came after Trump surrendered in his fight with powerful Democrats over aid to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

"Now, after the President and Senate Republicans disrupted and delayed disaster relief for more than four months, House Republicans have decided to wage their own sabotage," Pelosi said. "Every day of Republican obstruction, more disasters have struck, more damage has piled up and more families have been left in the cold."

Democrats said the House might try to again pass the measure next week during a session, like Friday's, that would otherwise be pro forma. If that doesn't succeed, a quick bipartisan vote would come after Congress returns next month from its Memorial Day recess.

Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., said she was upset at Roy's action. "The fact that one person from a state that is directly affected could object, it's just irresponsible," she said. Texas was slammed by record floods in 2017, though not Roy's San Antonio-area district.

GOP leaders and Trump support the bill.

"This is a rotten thing to do. This is going to pass," said Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

The relief measure would deliver money to Southern states suffering from last fall's hurricanes, Midwestern states deluged with springtime floods and fire-ravaged rural California, among others. Puerto Rico would also get help for hurricane recovery, ending a months-long dispute between Trump and powerful Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Trump said Thursday that he will enthusiastically sign the bill, which delivers much-needed help to many areas in the country where he performs well with voters.

The House drama came less than 24 hours after the Senate passed the bill by a sweeping 85-8 vote that represented a brush-back pitch by a chamber weary of Trump's theatrics and where some members are increasingly showing impatience with the lack of legislative action.

Trump said he favored the bill even though $4 billion-plus to deal with the humanitarian crisis involving Central American migrants border has been removed.

"I didn't want to hold that up any longer," Trump said. "I totally support it."

Much of the money would go to Trump strongholds such as the Florida Panhandle, rural Georgia and North Carolina, and Iowa and Nebraska. Several military facilities would receive money to rebuild, including Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

Disaster aid bills are invariably bipartisan, but this round bogged down. And a late-week breakdown on the appropriations panel left important must-do work for lawmakers when Congress returns next month.

After months of fighting, Democrats bested Trump and won further aid to Puerto Rico, the U.S. territory slammed by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017.

Talks this week over Trump's border request broke down, however, over conditions Democrats wanted to place on money to provide care and shelter for asylum-seeking Central American migrants. Talks were closely held and the opaque process sometimes left even veteran lawmakers in the dark.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Democrats of insisting on "poison pills" that made the talks collapse. But his office wouldn't go on the record to specify what they were. Other Republicans, especially those trying to project a bipartisan image for next year's campaign, were more circumspect.

"Right now the total dollar amounts are pretty close on border security. Democrats and Republicans are pretty much in agreement about it," said Sen. David Perdue. "We're just trying to work out some detailed language, but we didn't think we could wait any longer to get this done."

In fact, among the reasons for the late-week breakdown was a demand by Hispanic forces and House liberals such as Pelosi ally Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., to insist on a provision to tighten up existing language that tries to block the Homeland Security Department from getting information from the Department of Health and Human Services to help track immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally if they care for migrant refugee children arriving in huge numbers at the border.

Schumer, meanwhile, played a key role up to and during fast-paced developments on Thursday that propelled the measure through the Senate and appeared before reporters to take a victory lap after the vote — while McConnell gave a speech lamenting how long the process took and casting blame at Democrats for killing the must-do border aid package.

"This wasn't money for the wall, or even for law enforcement. It was money so that the federal government could continue to house, feed, and care for the men, women, and children showing up on our southern border," McConnell said. "Money for agencies that are currently running on fumes."

All sides agree that another bill of more than $4 billion will be needed almost immediately to refill nearly empty agency accounts to care for migrants, though Democrats are fighting hard against the detention facilities requested by Trump.

Trump rushed to try to claim credit, too, though his budget office never submitted an official request for the disaster aid. But he talked up the aid in a recent trip to the timber-rich Florida Panhandle, his best region in a state without which it's virtually impossible for him to win reelection.

"Well, we're going to get the immigration money later, according to everybody," Trump said. "I have to take care of my farmers with the disaster relief."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 174501

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34800568
Washington23412229
Marion20116299
Clackamas15311204
Lane11554144
Jackson9904127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes708272
Linn414263
Yamhill408775
Klamath345259
Polk342952
Malheur342758
Josephine305462
Douglas304365
Benton273218
Jefferson206432
Coos196831
Columbia153826
Union141124
Lincoln129820
Wasco128928
Hood River112429
Morrow107915
Clatsop8918
Crook87819
Baker85614
Curry5939
Tillamook5803
Lake4137
Grant4064
Harney3056
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3716579

Reported Deaths: 60994
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122864123628
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2945774550
San Diego2748113674
Orange2688694891
Santa Clara1169712013
Kern1078251322
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1005001643
Alameda852561477
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66927782
Stanislaus603831028
Tulare49383830
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41107560
San Francisco35993517
Santa Barbara33863446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29679311
Imperial27962719
Kings22766245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16250239
Santa Cruz15554204
Marin13860226
Yolo13559199
Shasta11677217
Butte11549196
El Dorado9719109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito598263
Lassen566924
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador362151
Humboldt358737
Lake340643
Glenn235525
Colusa219816
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4247
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned330
Medford
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 49°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 43°
Medford
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 49°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 49°
Klamath Falls
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 30°
Very warm Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events