Republicans turn on each other amid disaster bill delay

Republicans turn on each other amid disaster bill delay

A $19.1 billion disaster aid bill has been repeatedly tripped up in the House by conservative Republicans, creating an embarrassment for a House GOP coming under fire from Democrats and some of its own members for delaying a package meant to help stricken communities.

To make matters worse, the bipartisan package is being delayed as a series of tornadoes and floods devastate the Midwest and South.

“After more than four months of delay, it is absolutely outrageous that House Republicans are continuing to block passage of a disaster relief bill,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyMixed feelings on war power limits: Lawmakers and vet candidates US officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  House revives agenda after impeachment storm MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to The Hill.

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“The floods and tornadoes of the last few days remind us of the cruelty of this unnecessary Republican obstructionism,” she added.

While the package doesn't include money for the most recent disasters, focusing instead on hurricanes and wildfires from last year, some of the funds are for federal disaster relief that could aid in recovery.

The timing has also elicited criticism from within the GOP, with some lawmakers directing their ire at the handful of conservatives blocking the legislation.

“It’s long past time Congress act to help Iowans in need, which is why I voted for and helped pass this critical disaster aid package in the Senate that has the support of the President,” Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGrassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk Progressive group launches campaign targeting vulnerable GOP senators on impeachment Juan Williams: Counting the votes to remove Trump MORE (R-Iowa), said in a statement to The Hill Wednesday.

Flooding shut down a major interstate highway in Iowa on Wednesday, and residents in some parts of the state have had to deal with standing flood waters for more than two months.

The disaster aid bill came together quickly last week after months of haggling, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE withdrew a demand that the package include emergency funding for the Southern border. He also agreed to allow additional funding for Puerto Rico.

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The Senate passed the bill on May 23, and congressional leaders from both parties agreed to approve the measure in the House through unanimous consent, allowing lawmakers to head back to their districts for the Memorial Day recess.

But Rep. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyBudget watchdogs howl over deficit-ballooning deals Democrats launch bilingual ad campaign off drug pricing bill Congressional Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses two Texas Democrats MORE (R-Texas) objected to the bill’s passage on Friday, blocking the House’s ability to use the fast-track procedure. He argued that the measure deserved a full vote, and decried its contribution to the growing national debt.

When Democrats brought the bill up again on Tuesday, Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold Massie2 Democrats say they voted against war powers resolution 'because it merely restated existing law' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi plans to send impeachment articles next week NY Times's Haberman: Trump 'surprised' Iranian strike wasn't 'more of a unifying event' MORE (R-Ky.) blocked the measure, adding his objections to a planned extension of the National Flood Insurance Program, which is set to expire on Friday.

The delays come as the National Weather Service says flooding affecting eight states along the Mississippi River has been the longest since 1927, with flooding in the Arkansas River poised to break records.

House Democrats will try to pass the disaster bill again on Thursday by unanimous consent.

"I would wait to see what happens on Thursday," said Robert Donachie, a spokesman for Roy, suggesting the measure could be blocked for a third time.

Since the measure has enough votes to pass once the House is back in session next week, the best conservatives can do is delay its passage until then.

But with headlines proclaiming the country has been subjected to 500 tornadoes in the past 30 days — a near record — and flooding in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas, the delay tactics by conservatives have prompted sharp rebukes from fellow Republicans.

“Unfortunately, more clowns showed up today to once again delay disaster relief for the states and farmers devastated by the storms of 2018,” Rep Austin ScottJames (Austin) Austin ScottLawmakers warn Pentagon against reduction of US forces in Africa 5 Republicans who could replace Isakson in Georgia's Senate race Georgia GOP abuzz about Senate vacancy MORE (R-Ga.) tweeted on Tuesday.

Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerConservative Club for Growth backs Texas House Republican's primary challenger ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, called the legislative maneuvers a “political stunt.”

“As Republicans and as conservatives, we believe that there is no more important function for the federal government than to be there during disasters,” she said.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) called the moves “pathetic," and said they are an “example of politicians putting their own self-interest ahead of the national interest.”

On Wednesday, Roy tweeted that it was House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats hammer abuse of power charge, allege Trump put self over country Overnight Energy: Trump issues rule replacing Obama-era waterway protections | Pelosi slams new rule as 'an outrageous assault' | Trump water policy exposes sharp divides Pelosi slams Trump administration's new water rule: 'An outrageous assault' MORE’s (D-Calif.) responsibility to bring the House back into session early to allow for debate on the package.

Roy’s spokesman noted that the steps had been taken with the knowledge of GOP leadership, and played down the blowback from other Republicans.

“We understand that if you're a representative from Florida or Georgia, and you've been waiting for eight months, that it is upsetting,” Donachie said. “Obviously we want the money to go to those in need, but we want there to be a straight up-or-down vote.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE’s (R-Calif.) office did not respond to a request for comment.

For Democrats, the moves have created a political opening to hammer the GOP.

“The heartlessness of House Republicans knows no bounds,” Pelosi said Tuesday, pointing to the most recent weather events. “How many more communities need to suffer before Republicans end their political games?”