But because of the objection of a lone GOP member ― Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who’s upset the legislation doesn’t include money Trump initially demanded for border security ― disaster-stricken Americans will have to wait.
Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) had asked that the House pass the measure on Friday through a legislative process known as unanimous consent, even though many lawmakers had already left town for the holiday. The bill would have won approval under the process unless any member objected.
Roy, a freshman whose district includes part of Austin, was the lone dissenter, citing the $4.4 billion in border money Trump once said he wanted. Trump caved on the demand earlier in the week to move the aid package ahead.
The disaster aid will now have to wait until at least next week.
Here’s how that money would help.
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico continues to feel the effects of the massive devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 that left thousands dead. Our own government attempted to significantly downplay the toll, and Trump has repeatedly complained that Puerto Rico has wasted much of the aid it has already received. (Trump falsely claimed Puerto Rico has gotten $90 billion, but the actual figure is less than half that amount.)
The new bill would provide $600 million for the island’s food stamp program, which began running out of funding at the end of February. It would also receive an additional $300 million for other recovery efforts.
States including Georgia, North Carolina, Iowa and Nebraska would get funding to rebuild from multiple natural disasters. Trump’s favorite vacation state, Florida, would receive funding for recovery from Hurricane Michael last year, which killed 59 people and caused $25 billion in damage.
Billions in damage from last year’s Hurricane Florence, which affected multiple states, also would be targeted by the aid bill.
Our military would also benefit. The Air Force would receive $1 billion to repair bases damaged by Hurricane Michael. The National Guard would take $42 million for construction needed after Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence. The Navy and Marine Corps would share $600 million for the same storms. The department of Veteran Affairs would get $3 million to repair medical facilities.
Money to help communities affected by wildfires, tornadoes and floods would also be available. The Department of Agriculture would receive $3 billion to help states recover from loss of crops, including $480 million for forest restoration and $435 million to help prevent future floods.
Roy’s own state of Texas also stood to benefit. The measure, supported by both Texas senators, would force the government to release $4 billion in disaster funding to the state.
Billions more would be offered to help families elsewhere rebuild after natural disasters.
The legislation isn’t dead. It likely will be brought up for a House vote once vacationing lawmakers return.
Meanwhile, people continue to suffer.
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