Second GOP lawmaker blocks $19B disaster aid bill

On Tuesday, Rep. Thomas Massie became the second sole Republican congressman in four days to delay a $19 billion disaster aid relief package bill. Photo courtesy of U.S. House of Representatives

May 29 (UPI) — Within days of the first, a second GOP lawmaker has blocked a $19 billion aid bill for victims of California wildfires, Midwest floods and coastal hurricanes.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said no to the bill’s immediate passage with unanimous consent Tuesday in a pro forma session, demanding the vote be held after the House returns from recess next week, while criticizing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats for trying to pass the bill during recess.

“If the Speaker of this House felt that this was must-pass legislation, the speaker of this House should have called a vote on this legislation before sending its members on recess for 10 days,” Massie said.

His no vote marks the second time in four days a sole Republican congressman has delayed the disaster aid bill’s passage. Prior to the first pro forma vote, the bill had already been gridlocked for nearly six months as Senate Republicans were reluctant to approve more recovery funds for Puerto Rico, which President Donald Trump opposed, before a Senate deal last week.

On May 24, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, similarly objected to the $19 billion disaster aid bill, which otherwise would’ve passed at that time.

The Texas Republican said he opposed the bill because it didn’t include $4.4 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border crisis and would increase the federal deficit, adding an attempt to pass the bill during recess was “swampy.”

In the compromise reached last week, Congress agreed across partisan lines to fund $600 million for Puerto Rico’s nutritional assistance program and $300 million in Housing and Urban Development grants to offer relief to residents devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

The bill’s passage has been further complicated by the White House on May 1 sending a request to Congress for $3.3 billion in emergency funds to cover humanitarian assistance at the U.S.-Mexico border and another $1.1 billion for border operations with the surge of Central American migrants.


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