May 24 (UPI) — The Senate on Thursday reached a deal with President Donald Trump on a $19.1 billion disaster aid bill after the president dropped pressure to include funds to build a border wall.
Senate Republicans held a closed-door meeting with Trump on relief to states recovering from flooding, hurricanes and wildfires.
“Sounds like he will sign off on a clean disaster aid,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said of Trump. “That’s the plan … it’s $19.1 billion, just disaster relief. People want to look at it before they vote but sounds to me like where they are headed.”
Senate appropriations committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Trump agreed to a “clean disaster package” without any “border security stuff.” He said he spoke with House appropriations committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., about the legislation, though it was unclear whether the chamber has enough votes to pass it.
The Senate was expected to pass the legislation Thursday afternoon, but the House, which left for Memorial Day recess Thursday, likely won’t vote on the measure until June.
“Chairwoman Lowey is pleased that President Trump and Republicans have agreed to bipartisan, comprehensive disaster relief legislation that will meet urgent needs across the country,” Lowey’s spokesman, Evan Hollander, said in a statement. “If the Senate passes the legislation today, House Democrats support clearing it through the House as soon as possible.”
The deal is expected to include $600 million in food stamp money and $300 million in Housing and Urban Development grants for Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017.
“We Democrats said that Puerto Rico has to be treated fairly and they are,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. “I suggested this morning that we just do disaster and no border and that’s what we’re doing and each time the president messes in things get messed up. It’s better off letting us just do our work.”