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 LeeGOP senator compares Mueller report's obstruction findings to 'Pinocchio' in 'Shrek 3' Dems sound alarm over top DOJ nominee Restore Pell Grant eligibility to people in prison MORE (R-Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulBooker, Harris have missed most Senate votes Trump vetoes measure ending US support for Saudi-led war in Yemen Bottom line 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 NelsonTrump administration renews interest in Florida offshore drilling: report Dem reps say they were denied access to immigrant detention center Ex-House Intel chair: Intel panel is wrong forum to investigate Trump's finances 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem candidates sell policy as smart politics Overnight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for buying Iranian oil | At least four Americans killed in Sri Lanka attacks | Sanders pushes for Yemen veto override vote McConnell: 'Time to move on' from Trump impeachment talk 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.