Lone Texas law­maker holds up $19 bil­lion disas­ter bill

The Sacramento Bee - - Front Page - BY AN­DREW TAY­LOR

A House GOP con­ser­va­tive com­plain­ing a long-over­due $19 bil­lion disas­ter aid bill leaves out money needed to ad­dress the mi­grant cri­sis at the bor­der blocked the bill Fri­day, ex­tend­ing a tempest over hur­ri­cane and flood relief that has left the mea­sure me­an­der­ing for months.

The move came a day af­ter the mea­sure flew through the Se­nate de­spite a Demo­cratic power move to strip out Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s $4.5 bil­lion re­quest for deal­ing with a mi­grant cri­sis on the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

Texas Rep. Chip Roy, a for­mer aide to Texas fire­brand Sen. Ted Cruz, com­plained that it does not con­tain any money to ad­dress in­creas­ingly ur­gent bor­der needs. “It is a bill that in­cludes noth­ing to ad­dress the in­ter­na­tional emer­gency and hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis we face at our south­ern bor­der,” Roy said.

He also ob­jected to speed­ing the mea­sure through a nearly empty cham­ber, say­ing it was im­por­tant for law­mak­ers to ac­tu­ally vote on a bill that “spends a sig­nif­i­cant amount of tax­payer money.”

The relief mea­sure would de­liver money to South­ern states suf­fer­ing from last fall’s hur­ri­canes, Mid­west­ern states del­uged with spring­time floods and fire-rav­aged ru­ral Cal­i­for­nia, among oth­ers. Puerto Rico would also get help for hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery.

Trump said Thurs­day that he will en­thu­si­as­ti­cally sign the bill, which de­liv­ers much-needed help to many ar­eas in the coun­try where he per­forms well with vot­ers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a key force be­hind the mea­sure, which moved through the Se­nate with the en­thu­si­as­tic em­brace of Roy’s two GOP se­na­tors, said the de­lays have gone on too long. Se­nate ac­tion came af­ter Trump sur­ren­dered in his fight with pow­er­ful Democrats over aid to hur­ri­cane-rav­aged Puerto Rico.

“Now, af­ter the pres­i­dent and Se­nate Re­pub­li­cans dis­rupted and delayed disas­ter relief for more than four months, House Re­pub­li­cans have de­cided to wage their own sab­o­tage,” Pelosi said. “Ev­ery day of Repub­li­can ob­struc­tion, more dis­as­ters have struck, more dam­age has piled up, and more fam­i­lies have been left in the cold.”

Democrats said the House might try to again pass the mea­sure next week dur­ing a ses­sion, like Fri­day’s, that would oth­er­wise be pro forma. If that doesn’t suc­ceed, a quick bi­par­ti­san vote would come af­ter Con­gress re­turns next month from its Memo­rial Day re­cess.

Rep. Donna Sha­lala, D-Fla., said she was up­set at Roy’s ac­tion. “The fact that one per­son from a state that is di­rectly af­fected could ob­ject, it’s just ir­re­spon­si­ble,” she said. Texas was slammed by record floods in 2017, though not Roy’s San An­to­nio-area dis­trict.

GOP lead­ers and Trump sup­port the bill, as do some law­mak­ers who are oth­er­wise some of the cham­ber’s staunch­est con­ser­va­tives, such as Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga.

“This is a rot­ten thing to do. This is go­ing to pass,” said Rules Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jim McGovern, D-Mass.

Hours af­ter Roy blocked the mea­sure, the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee launched a digital ad in his dis­trict crit­i­ciz­ing his move. It de­picted a sub­merged Roy and said he’s “keep­ing Texas fam­i­lies un­der­wa­ter.”

Roy won his 2018 elec­tion by less than 3 percentage points. House Democrats’ cam­paign com­mit­tee con­sid­ers him a prime tar­get for next year’s elec­tions.

The House drama came less than 24 hours af­ter the Se­nate passed the bill by a sweep­ing 85-8 vote that rep­re­sented a brush­back pitch by a cham­ber weary of Trump’s the­atrics and where some mem­bers are in­creas­ingly show­ing im­pa­tience with the lack of leg­isla­tive ac­tion.

Trump said he fa­vored the bill even though $4 bil­lion-plus to deal with the hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis in­volv­ing Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants at the bor­der has been re­moved.

“I didn’t want to hold that up any longer,” Trump said. “I to­tally sup­port it.”

Much of the money would go to Trump stronghold­s such as the Florida Pan­han­dle, ru­ral Ge­or­gia and North Carolina, and Iowa and Nebraska. Sev­eral mil­i­tary fa­cil­i­ties would re­ceive money to re­build, in­clud­ing Camp Le­je­une in North Carolina, Of­futt Air Force Base in Nebraska and Tyn­dall Air Force Base in north­west Florida.

Disas­ter aid bills are al­ways ul­ti­mately bi­par­ti­san, but this round bogged down. And a late-week break­down on the ap­pro­pri­a­tions panel left im­por­tant must-do work for law­mak­ers when Con­gress re­turns next month.

Af­ter months of fight­ing, Democrats bested Trump and won fur­ther aid to Puerto Rico, the U.S. ter­ri­tory slammed by back-to-back hur­ri­canes in


All sides agree that an­other bill of more than

$4 bil­lion will be needed al­most im­me­di­ately to re­fill nearly empty agency ac­counts to care for mi­grants, though Democrats are fight­ing hard against the de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties re­quested by Trump.


An evac­uee leaves Jef­fer­son City, Mo., on Fri­day. The Mid­west would re­ceive disas­ter aid for flood­ing.

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