House OKs funds for multiple disaster sites
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.