House passes disaster aid bill, including over $3 billion for flood recovery, over Trump opposition


Andrew Taylor, Associated Press

via Des Moines Register (IA) - May 10, 2019


WASHINGTON The House on Friday passed a $19 billion disaster aid bill that would deliver long-sought relief to farmers, victims of hurricanes and floods, and rebuild southern military bases, as Democrats try to dislodge the legislation from a Senate logjam over aid to hurricane-slammed Puerto Rico.


The measure passed by a 257-150 vote over the opposition of most Republicans, who said it should also include the Trump administration's $4.5 billion request for stepped up humanitarian aid and law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, which is facing a wave of migrants fleeing violence in Central America.


The House had passed an earlier $14 billion version of the measure in January, but the legislation has been held up in the Senate amid a fight between President Donald Trump and Democrats over aid to Puerto Rico. Trump is feuding with Democratic officials on the island and falsely claims that Puerto Rico has already received $91 billion in aid.


Friday's measure originally added $3 billion to the earlier House bill to help Midwest states such as Iowa and Nebraska recover from this spring's floods but it then was successfully amended on the floor numerous times by lawmakers in both parties, who added $1.9 billion to rebuild military bases in Nebraska and Florida, as well as more flood aid for the Midwest.


"We must not turn our backs on our communities when they are recovering from devastating natural disasters," Rep. Cindy Axne, a West Des Moines Democrat, said on the House floor Friday.


Trump took to Twitter on Thursday to urge Republicans to vote against the bill.


"House Republicans should not vote for the BAD DEMOCRAT Disaster Supplemental Bill which hurts our States, Farmers & Border Security," Trump tweeted. "We want to do much better than this. All sides keep working and send a good BILL for immediate signing!" Only 34 Republicans broke with Trump to support the bill.


Disaster aid measures are usually among the few reliably bipartisan pieces of legislation left in an increasingly partisan Washington. But the pending measure faces several obstacles in addition to the battle over Puerto Rico...