Senator Richard Shelby. Photo by National Guard Bureau.

Senators Strike a $19 Billion Disaster Relief Deal

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Lawmakers announced that they have reached a bipartisan agreement that ends a months long fight over disaster relief spending, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

The package would deliver $19.1 billion in disaster relief to parts of California, the Midwest, the Southeast, and Puerto Rico.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Republican Senator Richard Shelby (AL) told reporters after leaving a closed-door Republican lunch that the agreement had been reached, adding that President Trump’s request to include additional funding for the U.S. border with Mexico had been left out of the deal.

We took it all out. We’re going to try to push that separately when we come back. It’s a good deal. This disaster issue has played on for months and months. Let’s hope we can move it out of the Senate today.”

Shelby via the Washington Post.

In a statement via Twitter, Shelby expressed his thanks to President Trump for ending the gridlock that stalled disaster aid.

According to the text of the bill, the much opposed additional funding to Puerto Rico, which has now been approved by President Trump and lawmakers, would provide the U.S. held territory with about $900 million. NBC News reports that the money allocated to Puerto Rico would in part go to, “nutrition assistance and a community development block grant.”

The House has adjourned for the upcoming holiday weekend, but according to the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Nita Lowey‘s (D-NY) spokesman Evan Hollander, if the bill passes the Senate as expected, the House could clear the bill as soon as possible.

If the Senate passes the legislation today, House Democrats support clearing it through the House as soon as possible

Hollander, via the Washington Post

The bill is expected to be voted on by the Senate on Thursday afternoon, prior to adjourning for the Memorial Day holiday.