House OKs funds for mul­ti­ple dis­as­ter sites

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Nation/World - By Lisa Mas­caro

WASH­ING­TON — Con­gress was on track to pass dis­as­ter funds for Puerto Rico af­ter the House on Thurs­day ap­proved a $36.5 bil­lion pack­age that also in­cludes ad­di­tional money for other hur­ri­cane hit ar­eas, flood in­sur­ance and wild­fires in the West.

The vote, 353-69, was not with­out some dif­fi­culty af­ter con­ser­va­tive groups balked at the spend­ing and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump lashed out at Puerto Rico, crit­i­ciz­ing its pre-hur­ri­cane fis­cal cri­sis in a se­ries of morn­ing tweets. The pack­age now moves to the Sen­ate. It is the first round of aid for Puerto Rico, which was dev­as­tated by Hur­ri­cane Maria and is still largely with­out elec­tric­ity.

Last month, Con­gress ap­proved an ini­tial $15 bil­lion pack­age for Texas, Flor­ida and other ar­eas hit by an un­usu­ally de­struc­tive hur­ri­cane sea­son.

In Thurs­day’s pack­age, about half the money, $18.7 bil­lion, will go to re­plen­ish the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency’s Dis­as­ter Re­lief Fund, which is be­ing rapidly de­pleted by re­cov­ery op­er­a­tions. An­other $16 bil­lion will shore up the Na­tional Flood In­sur­ance Pro­gram that is also run­ning out of money to cover losses. The pack­age also pro­vides $576.5 mil­lion for wild­fires that have left dozens killed and hun­dreds of homes and struc­tures burned in the West. Con­gress pro­vided $4 bil­lion more money for FEMA than the White House re­quested.

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