GOP Rep. Blocks Disaster Aid Bill Over Border Security Funding

A GOP representative on Friday blocked what would have been a unanimous vote on disaster relief funding legislation because it does not contain funding for border security.

“It includes nothing to address the clear national emergency and humanitarian crisis we face at our southern border,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said on the House floor, asking for what he called a “quite modest $4.4 billion.” 

The bill contains funding to support rebuilding and infrastructure improvements in areas affected by recent natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires.

Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) had asked that the $19.1 billion bill be passed quickly through unanimous consent before the Memorial Day weekend.

It has now been tabled until at least next week, when the House will hold two informal sessions. The earliest the full House would hold a vote on the bill is during the week of June 3.

After months of negotiations, the Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to approve the proposal. President Donald Trump is expected to sign it into law, despite the White House’s unsuccessful push for border security funding.

“The president said OK,” Senate Appropriations Committee chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters Thursday. “I’m sure he wanted the border … but we took that all out and we’re going to try to push that separately.”

Trump had also resisted the bill’s provisions for more funding to Puerto Rico, where Hurricane Maria ravaged the already financially strapped island in 2017.

On Thursday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called a press conference to blast House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for not pushing the bill through before Congress adjourned for recess. A reporter specifically asked Scalise about whether he would support the House passing a bill without border security funds through unanimous consent.

“However we can get this job done and help these families, we ought to do it,” he said.

Pelosi blasted Roy’s move on Friday.

“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,” she said in a statement.

The bill would have provided $4 billion to areas in Roy’s home state of Texas, and the Senate version was co-sponsored by Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R).

Roy, a freshman congressman, previously served as first assistant attorney general to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R). His 2016 resignation received scrutiny because he remained on the state’s payroll more than a month after he left to serve as executive director of a super PAC supporting the 2016 presidential campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). After the Dallas Morning News investigated, state officials claimed that he was receiving pay because he was on “emergency leave.”

Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Shalala sponsored the bill.

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