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Published: Friday, May 24, 2019 @ 11:18 AM
— Victims of Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and other natural disasters will have to wait into next month for Congress to give final approval to a $19.1 billion relief bill, as final passage of the plan in the House was blocked on Friday by a lone Republican lawmaker, forcing a delay until Congress returns for legislative business in the first week of June.
“I respectfully object,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a more conservative Republicans who stayed in town after the House had completed its legislative business on Thursday, and came to the floor Friday morning to object to acting on the plan without a full roll call vote.
The House had approved $19.1 billion in disaster aid in early May; the Senate on Thursday amended the plan with the backing of President Trump – but it wasn’t good enough to get unanimous consent for approval in the House.
“If I do not object, Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without members of Congress being present here in our nation’s capital,” Roy said on the House floor, forcing a further delay on the disaster aid measure.
.@Repchiproy objects to unanimous consent request for House to approve Senate-passed $19.1 disaster relief bill w/o roll call vote. "If I do not object Congress will have passed into law a bill that spends $19 billion of taxpayer money without Members of Congress being present…" pic.twitter.com/zcGzOzQMsE— CSPAN (@cspan) May 24, 2019
One of Roy’s objections was that no money was included in the plan for the immigrant surge along the southern border - President Trump had backed off of that in order to secure a deal on Thursday.
Roy’s maneuver drew the scorn of fellow Republicans from states which are need of aid - like Georgia - where farmers suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Michael.
Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) tweeted that “our farmers need aid today,” as this move by his GOP colleague will delay that process into June, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of fellow Republicans with farmers in need of assistance.
Procedural concerns lodged are valid, but the facts remain the same – our farmers need aid today.— Rep. Jody Hice (@CongressmanHice) May 24, 2019
I stand with @POTUS @realDonaldTrump in support of the bill to provide disaster relief for our #agriculture community. Should have happened months ago.
While political games over disaster assistance continue as a Member from TX blocked a package from getting to @POTUS desk today, one thing is clear: This bill has broad support & will advance when the House reconvenes & will be signed into law by POTUS the first week of June.— Rep. Austin Scott (@AustinScottGA08) May 24, 2019
Democrats were furious.
“House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need,” Pelosi added in a statement.
“This is a rotten thing to do,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who noted to reporters that Roy was blocking aid for his own home state of Texas.
“We should have passed this months ago,” said Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), who asked for approval of the measure on the House floor.
“I am beyond fed up. This is wrong,” said Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA). “This bill is about helping people – not about playing Washington politics.”
“Republican politicians are playing games while people’s homes are literally underwater,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH).
Unless Republicans relent next week, the House would not be able to set up a vote on the disaster aid measure until the week of June 3.
.@RepShalala tells reporters that Democrats plan to bring the disaster aid bill back up on Tuesday at 2 p.m. when the House meets for another pro forma session.— Jennifer Shutt (@JenniferShutt) May 24, 2019
Our full story: https://t.co/y3pLFJnzhU
House Dems will try again next week to get unanimous consent on the disaster bill, forcing Roy to stay in town if he wants to continue holdup— Erik Wasson (@elwasson) May 24, 2019
“There are people who are really hurting, and he’s objecting,” Shalala said. “He’s holding hostage thousands of people.”
The House has two ‘pro forma’ meetings scheduled for next week - on Tuesday and Friday. Republicans could object to passing the bill at those times as well.