House approves $17B disaster aid bill over Trump opposition on Puerto Rico

The House passed a $17.2 billion supplemental disaster relief package Friday in a 257-150 vote despite opposition from President Trump, who urged Republicans to vote against the measure because of what he saw as excessive funding for Puerto Rico.

Trump has argued that Puerto Rico has mismanaged aid already sent to the island after the devastation in 2017 from Hurricane Maria. On Thursday night, he pressed GOP lawmakers to oppose the measure.

“House Republicans should not vote for the BAD DEMOCRAT Disaster Supplemental Bill which hurts our States, Farmers & Border Security,” Trump tweeted.

Thirty-four Republicans voted for the bill despite the president’s urgings.

{mosads}The measure would extend the National Flood Insurance Program through Sept. 30, and provide aid to both Puerto Rico and states in the U.S. hit by flooding and other disasters.

Democrats have ripped Trump over the issue of Puerto Rico, arguing the president has sought to limit aid to the territory.

In the Senate, a similar battle is unfolding over funding.

GOP lawmakers are struggling to hash out a disaster bill, and some have expressed frustrations to the White House, pressing for Trump to agree to a deal.

Trump argued the island has received ample funding, tweeting that other areas impacted by natural disasters have been allocated lesser amounts.  

In a pair of tweets on Monday, Trump said Puerto Rico had been given more money by Congress for hurricane relief than any state in history.

Trump’s comments on funding for Puerto Rico have been labeled false by some fact-checkers. The website Politifact wrote that Congress appropriated more funding for recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina than to Puerto Rico, while also noting that some money allocated for Puerto Rico has yet to be spent. It also noted that delivering aid to Puerto Rico is more expensive than to the mainland United States.

House Republicans have called for Democrats to work across the aisle to craft a bipartisan measure that can pass both chambers.

Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told reporters Friday the Democrat-led bill failed to address a number of problems related to aiding disaster-stricken communities, alleging members across the aisle are playing politics with a critical issue.

“We’re continuing to negotiate to try and reach a bipartisan agreement and I sure encourage Democrats to work with us to get that done — to get a bill passed that the president would sign that actually addresses the problems, that gets disaster relief as quickly as possible to the states that have been impacted,” he said. 

Tags Disaster aid Donald Trump Puerto Rico Steve Scalise

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