A House Republican blocked the passage of a $19.1 billion disaster relief package that lawmakers hoped to send to President Trump’s desk after months of partisan fighting had stalled the money.
Final passage will now have to wait until the week of June 3, when House lawmakers return from a recess.
Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, opposed passing the measure by unanimous consent, delaying consideration until the House returns.
Democrats hoped to approve the spending measure by unanimous consent, which does not require a roll-call vote. Republicans are in the minority, so Democrats will be able to pass the measure with a roll-call vote when lawmakers return.
The measures stalled despite a bipartisan accord struck between leaders in the House and Senate, and after Trump agreed to lift some demands that had been holding up the bill. Other lawmakers also agreed to drop some of their funding requests that were stalling talks.[Related: Senate approves $19.B disaster aid package]
Roy cited the high price tag for the measure, arguing it deserved floor debate. He also pointed to the lack of funding needed to deal with a humanitarian crisis on the border that the president had been seeking.
The House could attempt to pass the measure once again in the next pro forma session on Thursday, but it would again invite a possible GOP objection.
Democrats denounced the move.
“House Republicans’ last-minute sabotage of an overwhelmingly bipartisan disaster relief bill is an act of staggering political cynicism,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “Countless American families hit by devastating natural disasters across the country will now be denied the relief they urgently need.”
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey offered similar sentiments.
“After President Trump and Senate Republicans delayed disaster relief for more than four months, it is deeply disappointing that House Republicans are now making disaster victims wait even longer to get the help they need,” Lowey, D-N.Y., said.[Also read: What’s Trump covering up? Democrats seek ‘the impeachable truth’]
“We must pass this bicameral, bipartisan bill, and we will keep working to get it through the House and onto the president’s desk.”
Trump agreed to sign the bill without $4.5 billion in emergency funding to help deal with the recent surge in illegal immigration along the southern border. Removing the border funding eased the agreement. Democrats were opposed to its inclusion, and Trump agreed to leave it out after talks with Republicans Thursday. Senate Republican leaders said Thursday they’ll attempt to move the border security funding separately.
The Senate passed the measure yesterday with overwhelming bipartisan support, but with criticism from GOP leaders.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized Democrats for blocking the money Trump was seeking, arguing the funds are needed for humanitarian aid in response to thousands of migrant families crossing into the United States from Mexico.
“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.”
The measure also includes millions of dollars more for Puerto Rico despite Trump’s argument that the island has already received enough disaster aid.[Read: Trump says he has ‘taken better care of Puerto Rico than any man ever’]
Democrats blamed Trump and the GOP for the delay in passing the package and called the humanitarian funding “extraneous.”
“It’s good that Republicans finally came to their senses and realized that Puerto Rico and other disaster-impacted areas deserve to be treated fairly and that extraneous provisions shouldn’t be added to the disaster relief package,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said.
It would provide more than $3 billion for farm crop damage due to storms and nearly $1 billion for the Marine Corps and Air Force to repair bases and restore equipment damaged by recent hurricanes.
The measure would also provide $600 million to the Economic Development Administration to provide grants to areas damaged by storms in 2018 and 2019.[Related: Bipartisan pair introduces Puerto Rico statehood bill in Congress]