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 LeeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency Congress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support MORE (R-Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 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 Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms 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 McConnellOvernight Energy: Trump ends talks with California on car emissions | Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal | Climate PAC backing Inslee in possible 2020 run Poll: 33% of Kentucky voters approve of McConnell Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against 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.