Disaster relief bill clears major hurdle in Senate

Disaster relief bill clears major hurdle in Senate
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A House-passed bill aimed at helping communities impacted by a string of recent natural disasters cleared a key hurdle in the Senate on Monday evening.

Senators voted 79-16 to advance on the bill, setting up a final vote as soon as Tuesday.

All of the 16 "no" votes came from GOP senators, including Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeReexamining presidential power over national monuments Utah group complains Mia Love should face criminal penalties for improper fundraising Senate approves 4B spending bill MORE (R-Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (R-Ky.).

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The House bill would provide $36.5 billion to fund hurricane relief, a flood insurance program and wildfire recovery efforts in the West.

That includes $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund, $16 billion to address national flood insurance program debt and $576.5 million for wildfire recovery efforts. It also provided $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.

Monday evening's vote comes after Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump The Hill's 12:30 Report — Kavanaugh controversy consumes Washington | Kavanaugh slated to testify Monday | Allegations shake up midterms Florida governor booed out of restaurant over red tide algae issues MORE (D-Fla.) tried to add more money to the legislation to help with the recovery efforts for hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria. His request was blocked, as expected, by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (R-Ky.). 

"I hope he knows the Senate remains committed to doing its part to support the ongoing hurricane relief efforts. We all see this as a multistage process. ... There will be additional rounds, and we are all fully committed to meeting the needs that have arisen as a result of these devastating hurricanes," McConnell said, explaining his reason for objecting. 

Senators had mulled adding more financial help to the bill, but now appear to be poised to pass the legislation as is.

In addition to the amendment from Nelson, Paul is pushing to get the $36.5 billion in spending paid for.

But the libertarian-leaning senator's effort faces an uphill fight. Senators rejected a similar proposal from him during the first round of disaster relief funding.