GOP Lawmaker Sidetracks Disaster Bill Including Flood Insurance Extension

By and Jack Fitzpatrick | May 27, 2019

A single Republican House member temporarily blocked fast-track passage Friday of a $19 billion disaster-aid plan, likely meaning lawmakers will vote when they return in early June from a week-long recess.

Freshman Representative Chip Roy of Texas objected to the House’s plan to pass the measure without a recorded vote, a day after almost all members left Washington for their home districts. The House is scheduled to return on June 3 and will be able to hold a roll-call vote.

The measure, H.R. 2157 — which would aid areas hit by hurricanes, Midwest floods and California wildfires — already has been held up for about six months in a disagreement over funds for Puerto Rico.

The legislation also provides $3 billion in aid for farmers, including payments to producers prevented from planting crops by this year’s Midwestern floods, or who lost crops in storage because of the flooding.

Roy said on the House floor there’s “no reason” why the bill shouldn’t also include border funds sought by President Donald Trump. In addition, he said, “This is a $19 billion bill that is not paid for” by cuts elsewhere in the budget.

“The people’s House should vote” on the bill, Roy told reporters.

The Senate passed the measure on Thursday, and the House had planned to send it to Trump on Friday. The president said he supported it, dropping his demand to add funds to deal with the influx of migrants at the U.S. border with Mexico.

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a Democrat, said in a statement, “It is deeply disappointing that House Republicans are now making disaster victims wait even longer to get the help they need.”

Democratic Representative Donna Shalala of Florida said her party will try again to use the fast-track procedure this week in an effort to pass the measure before the full House returns. If Roy remains in Washington and again objects, House leaders plan to bring the bill to a regular vote the following week.

The bill would extend the National Flood Insurance Program, which is set to expire May 31, for four months. If it continues to be stalled next week, the House has the option to fast-track a separate measure dealing just with the insurance program.

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